Maryanne O’Hara’s Cascade (Viking, Aug.) is a tightly woven story about the choices a young woman makes and the far-reaching consequences of those decisions. The story begins in Cascade, a small Massachusetts town that’s being considered as the site for a reservoir, necessitated by Boston’s need for water. The year is 1935 and across America the Depression retains a hold on its citizenry. These issues coupled with a young woman coming-of-age form the plot’s triangle. Desdemona Hart Spaulding is an aspiring artist whose story, like the postcards she paints and the Shakespearean plays her father loved, is complicated. The swirling eddy of human feeling—humor, sadness, betrayal, infidelity, love, ambition, and duplicity—are all well represented and compel the reader to understand and not judge as Dez follows her heart and her art. With an artist’s eye, O’Hara has vividly captured the conflicting emotions that churn behind the human face.

Kathleen “Totsie” McGonagle, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, Mass.