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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Cascade" by Maryanne O'Hara

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Cascade" by Maryanne O'Hara

  1. Art and Creativity:

    • Discuss the role of art in the novel, particularly the significance of painting and creativity in the life of the protagonist, Desdemona Hart Spaulding. How does Desdemona's passion for art shape her identity and influence her decisions?
    • Explore the theme of artistic expression as a means of coping with adversity and finding solace. How do characters like Desdemona use art to navigate personal struggles and confront societal expectations?
  2. Love and Sacrifice:

    • Analyze the romantic relationships in the novel, particularly Desdemona's relationships with Asa and Charlie. How do these relationships evolve over time, and what sacrifices do the characters make for love?
    • Discuss the ways in which love and sacrifice intersect in the novel, both on a personal level within individual relationships and on a broader scale within the context of historical events.
  3. Gender Roles and Expectations:

    • Explore the portrayal of gender roles and expectations in the novel, particularly in the early 20th-century setting. How do societal norms and expectations shape the lives of female characters like Desdemona and her mother, Hazel?
    • Discuss Desdemona's defiance of traditional gender roles and her pursuit of a career as an artist. How does her determination to pursue her passion challenge societal expectations and norms?
  4. Historical Context:

    • Examine the historical backdrop of the novel, set against the backdrop of the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts during the Great Depression. How does the construction project impact the lives of the characters and the community of Cascade?
    • Discuss the significance of historical events such as the Great Depression and the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir in shaping the characters' experiences and the trajectory of the story.
  5. Loss and Resilience:

    • Reflect on the theme of loss in the novel, particularly Desdemona's experiences of loss and grief. How does she cope with the loss of loved ones and the challenges she faces in pursuing her dreams?
    • Explore the resilience of the characters in the face of adversity. How do they find strength and courage to persevere through difficult times and overcome obstacles?
  6. The Power of Community:

    • Discuss the importance of community in the novel, both in the small town of Cascade and within the artistic community of Boston. How do characters rely on their communities for support, connection, and belonging?
    • Explore the ways in which Desdemona's relationships with her neighbors and fellow artists influence her personal and artistic journey.
  7. The Ending and Resolution:

    • Reflect on the ending of the novel and Desdemona's ultimate decision regarding her future. How does she reconcile her personal desires with her responsibilities to her community and loved ones?
    • Discuss the themes of closure and redemption in the novel's resolution. How do characters find peace and resolution in the aftermath of loss and upheaval?

Maryanne O'Hara is an American author known for her novel "Cascade" and her work as a playwright and editor. Here's a brief biography of Maryanne O'Hara:

Early Life and Education: Maryanne O'Hara grew up in Massachusetts, USA. She attended Emerson College in Boston, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing.

Career: Maryanne O'Hara began her career as a playwright, writing and producing plays in the Boston area. She later transitioned to writing fiction and became an accomplished novelist.

In 2012, O'Hara published her debut novel, "Cascade," which received critical acclaim for its evocative storytelling and rich historical detail. The novel is set against the backdrop of the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts during the Great Depression and explores themes of art, love, and sacrifice.

In addition to her work as a novelist, O'Hara has also worked as an editor and writing instructor. She has taught writing workshops and seminars at various institutions, including Grub Street in Boston.

O'Hara's writing has been published in several literary journals and anthologies. She is known for her lyrical prose and vivid descriptions of landscapes and characters.

Personal Life: Maryanne O'Hara currently resides in Massachusetts, where she continues to write and teach. She is involved in the literary community and is passionate about promoting the arts and supporting emerging writers.

Legacy and Recognition: Maryanne O'Hara's work as a novelist and playwright has earned her critical acclaim and a loyal readership. Her writing is characterized by its emotional depth, historical authenticity, and lyrical prose.

While O'Hara may not be as widely recognized as some bestselling authors, she is respected within literary circles for her contributions to fiction and theater. Her work continues to resonate with readers who appreciate immersive storytelling and compelling characters.


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