Publish Date: Aug 16, 2012
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley and Historical Fiction Book ToursA novel of art and desire in the 1930s
It’s 1935, and Desdemona Hart Spaulding has sacrificed her plans to work as an artist in New York to care for her bankrupt, ailing father in Cascade, Massachusetts. When he dies, Dez finds herself caught in a marriage of convenience, bound to the promise she made to save her father’s Shakespeare Theater, even as her town may be flooded to create a reservoir for Boston. When she falls for artist Jacob Solomon, she sees a chance to escape and realize her New York ambitions, but is it morally possible to set herself free?
Fans of Richard Russo, Amor Towles, Sebastian Barry, and Paula McLain will savor this transporting novel about the eternal tug between our duties and our desires, set in New York City and New England during the uncertain, tumultuous 1930s
Review: This is one of those books that you love or you hate and it all stems around the lead character, Dez and the choices that she makes in her life.
For me, I'm on the fence right now because I've read so many emotionally charged books recently, that at times some of the things that happened to Dez just felt like too much to me.
Yet, she is a strong women in a time when women were still supposed to be wives and mothers. She was a person who wanted to be herself. Its just that her decisions and how she went about making her choices that often put me off of her as a character. Rather than seeing her as ambitious and talented, she more often then not comes across as selfish.
A lot of the story revolves around the fictional town of Cascade that might be flooded to build a reservoir for Boston. The town may be fictional but the subject matter isn't. Many towns were flooded for this very reason during that time period. The vast majority of the story revolves around the town trying to keep from being taken for this reservoir.
When it is finally learned which town was selected, the story moves at a much faster clip, with Dez in NYC pursuing her art.
This is one of those books that pulls you in from the start. It is super emotional and can be uncomfortable at times, but still an excellent read. It is also a strange read. I say that because I couldn't like many of the characters at all, especially her friend Abby. I just couldn't understand how they were friends. Yet, even though I didn't like the characters I still found myself turning the pages to see what was going to happen.
The biggest surprise though involves Jacob, the Jewish artist she is friends with in Cascade. Her feelings for him are made known from the beginning of the book, and the outcome of their relationship will probably surprise you. I know it did me.
A very engaging read. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction.
Rating: 4 flowers