Book Review: The Day The Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Day The Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan is quite simply a beautiful novel. It is beautiful in the history told and the writing and it really surprises me that this is Cathy’s first novel. If The Day The Falls Stood Still is any indication of what we can expect from her then I’ll be waiting anxiously for her next novel. I also have to make mention of this cover. It is gorgeous and up close in my hands even better.

This novel is part history and part love story and I truly enjoyed both aspects. The story takes place from 1915 -1923 and relates many aspects of the struggles that took place over the Queenston Powerhouse ruining Niagara Falls – as power was evolving the river was diminishing. In addition Cathy wove a beautiful love story between Bess and Tom Cole, who is actually based on a real fellow who lived back when all this was happening. Tom Cole is a riverman; he feels and hears the river, he is kind of like one with the river and can predict things that will happen to do with it.

Bess comes from a well-to-do family. At the start of the novel Bess has been attending Loretta Academy but she is about to find out that her father has lost his job and she is no longer the well off girl she was. Bess returns home to her mother, father and sister Isabel. Isabel is suffering a broken heart as her beau dumped her after her father lost his job. Bess is determined to cheer her up but can the deep sadness from a broken heart ever really heal? A tragedy occurs that leaves Bess knowing what she wants from her life and that is Tom Cole and a life with him no matter what her family thinks.

There were so many things in this novel that I enjoyed. It really has to be read and experienced first hand to really understand the depth of things going on. Bess was a dressmaker and I don’t know why but I love to read about the making of clothes so this was also an intriguing point of the book for me. The history was a huge plus for me as it is in any novel I read. When I can learn something, I’m impressed. I feel a little more in tune with my own Canadian history now. The characters are all well developed and Bess and Tom will grab your heart and not let go throughout the entire journey. It was also interesting to read about the struggles that families went through in Canada with the war going on and their men off fighting. Within the book as well are actual newspaper articles and pictures which made it even more interesting.

One of my favorite quotes in the book (and there are many) comes from the beginning of the novel when Bess first sets eyes on Tom…

  • ‘As always, our procession paused at the falls, and I looked into the water of the upper river, at the round stones of the riverbed, each large enough to resist being torn from its resting place and flung over the brink. Clear water hurtled past the stones, then shattered to white as it plunged to the river below. Standing there at the brink of the falls, I asked for a young man to be spared, a young man for me’. (pg 14, advanced reader’s copy)

This novel made me laugh and it made me cry. The ending gave me shivers as the past comes back to save the future in a way. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a historical novel with a good old fashioned love story. It’s one of my favorites this year! Don’t forget to check out Cathy’s guest post and giveaway that she was kind enough to share with us yesterday.

You can visit Cathy Marie Buchanan’s website here. The Day The Falls Stood Still was released August 25 and you can buy it here in the US and here in Canada. My thanks to Diane for my review copy of The Day The Falls Stood Still. I’m going to leave you with the book trailer. Enjoy…


  1. Sandy Nawrot says

    I've heard nothing but good about this one. I agree with you, I love to learn something when I am reading!

  2. Mary says

    I've seen more and more reviews for this but wasn't convince I need to read it until your review, Dar. It's on my list!

  3. Anonymous says

    A fantastic historical fiction. The storylines are intricately woven together to make a fascinating story in a fascinating place all the while learning about the Niagara area during this time period. The story and the characters have stayed with me. A true test for me and a good novel is not being able to put it down, but feeling somewhat sad when the book is finished. This novel passed the test. A must read!

  4. Marie Burton says

    A wonderful review… I loved the novel as well and wonder if Cathy is working on anything because I want to pick that one up too!

  5. Tara says

    Because I have this in the TBR pile, I skimmed your review to find out the bottom line – so glad to know you loved this! I am really looking forward to reading it.

  6. Ti says

    I really enjoyed this one. It was a seamless mix of various genres and I learned a little something about Niagara as well. Loved it.

  7. Zibilee says

    I am getting more and more excited about this book with every great review I read. I passed it up earlier, and I am kicking myself now! I am glad you loved it so much, and great review.

  8. Toni says

    I can't wait to read this. I agree about the cover. I wish we could read this as a group… sounds like a perfect group read Dar. thanks for the stellar reveiw.

  9. Nicola says

    I absolutely agree with everything you said! I posted a review of this book today, too! And your right, the cover just blew me away! And extra bonus for me, I live in the Falls, just a block away from their church in the book!

  10. Beth F says

    I have been chomping at the bit to read this one. I love Niagra Falls — they have an amazing magnetism. Anyway, good review.

  11. Heather says

    I was quite young when my dad took the family to Niagara Falls when it was 'turned off'. What a site seeing people scurrying around on seeming dry land that was usually under water. That would have been around 1967.

  12. Gwendolyn B. says

    I've got a copy of this on my night table – you're review makes me wonder what I've been waiting for! So glad you liked it.

  13. Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) says

    LOVED this book – just finished it today – and will be linking to your review. You captured this novel perfectly!

  14. Anonymous says

    Recently picked up this book at the local library–what a delight! I especially liked the details about sewing that Cathy Buchanan included–fabrics, beading, etc.–in such a descriptive way that I felt I was looking over Bess's shoulder as she worked.

    Another very poignant point in the story was when Bess and Tom were leaving little special messages and tokens for one another during the time when she was not allowed to have him visit. Young love at its most innocent and sweet!


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