Review – Audiobook: Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publish Date: August 16, 2012
Format: Audio, 11 hours | 32 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
Rating: 4 of 5
Set during the Great Depression in the 1930s, Cascade is the story of Desdemona Hart, a young woman forced to abandon her dreams of finishing art school and return home when her father became ill and their house went into foreclosure.
Dez marries Asa, a local man who is financially secure and saves their home and business, the Cascade Shakespeare Theater, but she is unhappy being a wife and doesn’t want to have children. Two months later, Dez’s father dies and soon after she finds out that the Massachusetts Water Authority wants to flood their town to create a reservoir. To further complicate matters, Dez meets a fellow artist, Jacob Solomon. The two have much in common, and she feels a strong attraction toward him.
Dez feels trapped in a marriage she doesn’t want and dreams of moving to the city to pursue a career as an artist. Beautifully written and vividly set against a background of the doomed town of Cascade, we feel the conflicts that envelop Dez as she struggles with duty vs desire and ultimately she must make a difficult decision.
I’m not usually influenced by book trailers, but a few months ago I watched the beautiful production for this novel which made me put Cascade on my to-read list. It provides an excellent synopsis of the story, gives us background on the author’s inspiration and did a superb job of piquing my interest.
I listened to the audio version and while it was alright, I wasn’t excited about the performance. I’ve been struggling over explaining exactly what it was that I didn’t like and finally realized that it was a combination of issues. The narrator has a young voice, and while that was fine for Dez, it didn’t translate well for the older or male characters. At times the pacing felt a little off but for most of it I had no problem continuing listening. I think this was mostly personal preference on my part and I suggest listening to a sample of the audio before making a decision.
While this is historical fiction, the story itself is timeless. It built toward an ending that I wasn’t expecting with a twist that seemed to come out of nowhere; but yes, looking back it was there all the time. Haunting and a bit sad, it left something to think about long after I had finished the book. You don’t need to be a fan of historical fiction to enjoy this one. Recommended.
Source: Review copy.
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