The Day the Falls Stood Still


Author: Cathy Marie Buchanan

Published: 2009

Genre: Historical fiction

About: A young woman meets a riverman in Niagara Falls.

Find this book at,, Audible, AbeBooks

Review of The Day the Falls Stood Still

When I notice the faint rumble of the Niagara River tumbling through the gorge, I move closer, to the front of our property, and listen to the Whirlpool Rapids far below. I stand with my eyes shut, imagining great waves of surging green crashing and toppling to masses of frothy white. When I open my eyes, the fellow who carried my trunk is passing along River Road, likely returning from his camp at the whirlpool. He tips his cap, and I quickly turn away, embarrassed at the thought of myself a moment earlier, listening to the river.

As I reach for the screen door, I look over my shoulder intending to wave but, too late, see only his back. Three fair-size fish hang from a line slung over his shoulder. His bedroll swings back and forth in time with his gait. When he is far enough away that I can no longer tell his collar from his cap, I see him look back toward Glenview. I wave, and it seems he nods, though I cannot say for sure.

...from pages 32-33

The following is an edited transcript of a discussion between KB, age 15, (interviewer) and Lynn Bornath (interviewee) on 11 October 2009.

What's the name of the book?
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan.
What's it about?
It's about a girl named Bess. She lives with her family in a really big house, then her dad loses his job and she gets pulled out of the private school that she goes to. On the trip home, she meets a boy.
How old is she?
She's 17.
And he is?
A couple of years older. I don't remember exactly.
At home, they have to cut back on everything. They had a maid, a cook, etc., and they have to fire them all. And then this boy that she met starts coming by the house and talking to her. They like each other a lot, but her parents don't approve.
Because he sells fish and they don't think he has much of a future to support her. They want her to make a better choice for marriage.
But she really likes him?
She falls in love with him.
This story is focused on the love story between the two of them?
Not entirely, but yes.
Did you like the book?
Yes. I learned a lot about the history of Niagara Falls, and about hydroelectricity which was really interesting.
What sort of stuff?
The guy she falls in love with, Tom, really loves the river. He is the grandson of a man who was famous in the area for understanding how the river worked, how the Falls worked, and for rescuing people. Tom is very concerned about what the creation of hydroelectricity is doing to the river, the environmental issues. That was interesting.
What time period?
It starts in 1915.
It progresses through a lot of years?
It takes about eight years, the whole book. It seemed like it went over a longer period of time.
What made it seem like that?
Because a lot happened. Bess said something about how they had been married for eight years and I was surprised because I thought it had been longer than that.
Would you recommend this book?
Who would you recommend it to?
Well, I told your father to read it because I thought he would be interested in the whole hydro thing, the history of it. People who like a good love story because there are parts of it that are very sweet.
Was it easy to understand?
Yes, and the history parts weren't boring.
So the history stuff is like real true history?
Right. There are a couple of really dramatic rescues that Tom makes and those are based on true events. They are historically accurate.
That's cool. Did the book go by really fast or did it take some time?
It went quickly, it was an easy read. I didn't get bogged down in anything.
Did you find it more interesting that some of the events actually happened?
Very much so. And Tom was based on a real man, a famous riverman, and Bess was inspired by that man's wife.
I have question for you. We went to a reading by Cathy Marie Buchanan and she read the chapter where Tom and Bess leave messages for each other. You really liked that chapter. Why?
Because I thought it was really cute and romantic and you don't see much of that these days. Today, it's like email and Facebook and Twitter, not like tiny little notes on the side of the road. I thought it was really cute.
It was sweet.
Do you think this book could be turned into a movie?
Yes. Some books read like movies. I didn't read this one that way but it could be turned into one.
Would you watch it?
Of course. I think it would be a good thing. It would get even more people aware of the hydro that we take for granted and its effect on the river and the Falls.
And the cool love story.
And the cool love story.

Find this book at,, Audible, AbeBooks

More Reviews

Melwyk, The Indextrious Reader, 25 August 2009
“All these elements come together in a moving conclusion which I must admit had me verklempt.”
Darlene, Peeking Between the Pages, 28 August 2009
“This novel made me laugh and it made me cry.”
Nicola, Back to Books, 28 August 2009
“A riveting book. I could hardly put it down and read it very quickly.”
Marta, Marta's Meanderings, 8 September 2009
“I loved this book and heartily recommend it to anyone who's looking for a well rounded novel to spend some time with.”
Jonita, The Book Chick, 14 September 2009
“Although I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Bess and Tom, I equally enjoyed finding out things that I didn't know about Niagara Falls.”
Colleen, Lavender Lines, 23 September 2009
“Intoxicating is one way to describe this book.”
Rachel, A Fair Substitute for Heaven, 7 October 2009
“one of my favourite reads this year”
Kailana, The Written World, 8 October 2009
“Buchanan captured everything so well, it is really a wonderfully written novel that deserves all the praise in the world.”
Marie, Daisy's Book Journal, 20 January 2010
“This book is definitely one of my all-time favourites.”
Kate, Kate's Bookcase, 7 March 2010
“So a mixed review this time”
Martina, She Read a Book, 15 June 2010
“I loved all the characters, admired their strength, cried and laughed with them and didn't want any of it to end.”
Cat, Beyond Books, 23 August 2010
“beautiful, heart-wrenching and powerful”


WARNING: Comments may contain spoilers.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Added 30 May 2010.
Updated 25 August 2013.