To the grand tradition of good, old-fashioned love stories like The Notebook and Atonement, and sweeping literary historicals like March and City of Light, debut novelist Cathy Marie Buchanan adds an inspiring new contribution: The Day the Falls Stood Still (August 25; $24.99; Hyperion; Voice). The late summer debut that is sure to make readers rave is a rich, radiant tale set in early 20th century Niagara Falls. The seemingly indomitable falls provide an evocative backdrop for this equally timeless story of grit, joy, hardship, and love.


The Day the Falls Stood Still tells the story of independent, strong-willed Bess Heath. When the story opens, Bess is seventeen, the privileged child of one of Niagara Falls‘ best-standing families. It is the dawn of the hydroelectric era and the town is transformed overnight by new industry. But everything changes in a heartbeat when Bess’s father loses his job and a terrible tragedy occurs. The life Bess has always known instantly falls apart. The onset of World War I brings additional challenges and opportunities.


In the midst of her family’s upheaval, Bess defies her parents’ wishes by falling head over heels for Tom Cole, a handsome, rough-hewn riverman from the ‘wrong’ side of the tracks. Tom, whose character is based on an actual historic person, has a mystical connection to the falls, an uncanny ability to predict disaster, and a fierce love for Bess that they both believe can conquer all. Strong historic elements are woven throughout the narrative. Both Tom and Bess are torn between love and responsibility, faith and destiny.


Cathy Marie Buchanan was born and raised in Niagara Falls and now lives in nearby Toronto. Buchanan is well versed in Niagara Falls conservation efforts’both then and now’and The Day the Falls Stood Still incorporates actual photographs and historical figures from the era. The subject matter at the passionate core of the novel proves relevant and newsworthy today, as water continues to be diverted from the falls for hydroelectricity, leaving tourists and nature lovers with a mere inkling of the total water that naturally flows there.


Ms. Buchannan is coming to Lift Bridge Book Shop in Brockport on Friday, September 18, 2009, at 7pm.  Her presentation will include slides and an engaging talk, followed by Q&A and a book signing.  For more information, call 585-637-2260.


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