Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Day the Falls Stood Still, by Cathy Marie Buchanan
The Day the Falls Stood Still
Cathy Marie Buchanan
Bess Heath is leaving for the summer, after finishing her Junior year as a student at Loretto Academy in Niagra Falls. At the commencement ceremonies for the graduating seniors, she learns her father has lost his job as the director of the Niagra Power Company. This will surely negate her return to Loretto in the fall as the family’s lifestyle suddenly plummets to a tenuous existence. In order to make ends meet her mother takes in sewing, her father drinks. Oddly, her sister, is also abandoned by her fiancee, the son of her father’s former boss.
When her sister is found dead by Tom Cole, the riverman, she goes with him to see her. Only then does she learn the secret her sister held close. With Tom as an ally she is able to silence the truth to protect her sister’s memory. She is drawn to Tom, an attractive, strong, sensitive man, with a calm demeanor, who loves the outdoors.
He is the grandson of the infamous Fergus Cole who knew the river better than anyone. Tom has grown up along side the river. It in his blood. He knows the river, he can feel it. “He just knows.” Like his grandfather, he becomes a hero, saving the people who try to challenge the river. He loves the natural world and he worries about the power company and the drain on the river. His integrity and marriage are on the line when he must compromise his position and beliefs in order to provide for his family.
After her sister’s death, Bess struggles with grief and her belief in God. She has difficulty finding meaning in life and Tom tells her,
“But there is meaning in everything. In dew. And wind. Even in the birds squawking at dawn.” (151)
This is a historical fiction novel, based on the history of Niagra Falls and some of the unusual events that took place as well as the development of the Niagra Power Company, and the treaties that were enacted. The Niagra Parks website has further information.
One of the most moving and inspiring books I have read in a long time. I sobbed for pages to the end stopping only for tissues. During the final scene I realized I was holding my breath with anticipation. This has heart tugging drama that rips through to your core and will make you think as Bess will say, “Faith is believing without proof.”
Cathy Marie Buchanan has gifted us a beautiful story of faith and love, a stellar debut that should be on everyone's TBR list.