Tell Me Something True – A Visit With Maryanne O’Hara

Today’s post by Maryanne O’Hara | @MaryanneOHara

We’ve got a copy of Maryanne’s novel, CASCADE, up for grabs today. Just leave a comment on this post to be entered.

Maryanne O’Hara

UPDATE: the winner for this giveaway is Janet Estridge. She has been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered! And don’t forget to visit again soon.

“He’d made lunch for us. He had wine. “

Way back when Cascade was a short story idea—an idea about artists in New York in the 1930s—the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum put me in touch with a few people who had painted for Roosevelt’s “New Deal ” art projects during the Depression. I was interested in the fact that the government, for the first time, had said, 1, that putting artists to work was just as important as putting bridge builders to work, and 2, that art was for everyone.

One of the artists, James Lechay, lived down on Cape Cod. I arranged to interview him one summer Saturday, and although I was looking forward to it, I dreaded the five-hour round-trip trek. My plan was to zip down as fast as I could, interview him, then zip home in time for my evening plans.

But when I arrived in Wellfleet, the loveliest man was eagerly awaiting my arrival. Indeed, he had planned his whole day around it.

James Lechay was 91, and he would live only another three years, but nothing about him seemed particularly old. Even his house was cool and edgy—gunmetal gray, with modern lines and a flat roof, built to his specifications years earlier. He himself was tall, elegant, with soft white hair that fell to his shoulders. Inside, the house was serene and spare. A wall of glass overlooked pine thickets and the distant sea; his semi-abstract paintings lined other walls.

I saw that he’d set the table. He’d made us lunch. He had wine.

No, I didn’t zip anywhere that day. Instead, I spent a long and precious afternoon talking about New York in the thirties, and painting, and about the drive to create that never gets quite satisfied and which never goes away. In fact, I later read that he painted right up until a few days before his death.

My interview with him and two other artists turned into an article for an arts magazine, not a short story. But years later, I incorporated much of that research into Cascade. Some of James Lechay’s spirit inspired the character of Dez, and he completely inspired the novel’s last line.

The nicest true thing? Last year, when Cascade was in production, my husband and daughter gave me one of his paintings for Christmas. A perfect, wonderful gift.

During the 1930s, in a town fighting for its survival, a conflicted new wife with artistic promise must choose between duty and desire
Fans of Richard Russo, Amor Towles, Sebastian Barry, and Paula McLain will devour this transporting novel about the eternal tug between our duties and our desires, set within the context of the Depression, NYC during Roosevelt’s New Deal era, and the approaching World War.

1935:   Desdemona Hart Spaulding was an up-and-coming Boston artist when she married in haste and settled in the small, once-fashionable theater town of Cascade to provide a home for her dying father. Now Cascade is on the short list to be flooded to provide water for Boston, and Dez’s discontent is complicated by her growing attraction to a fellow artist. When tragic events unfold, Dez is forced to make difficult choices. Must she keep her promises? Is it morally possible to set herself free?

What do we have to give up to be whom we yearn to be?   CASCADE unfolds like a Shakespearean tragedy, with an ending you won’t see coming. Much like a drowned town, the novel becomes something that you can’t take your eyes from or stop thinking about in wonder.”    The Boston Globe


22 Responses to Tell Me Something True – A Visit With Maryanne O’Hara

  1. Elisabeth February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I enjoyed reading your post this morning. I grew up spending summers near Wellfleet! Cascade has been a book I have been wanting to read!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Elizabeth Towns February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Wow. How can you explore the conundrum of a life built on making the right choices for everyone you love, willingly; until a chance for your own freedom, destiny and journey presents a choice? I want to be in the middle of this novel now.

  3. Paula Dolin February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    The book sounds wonderful and I love the cover art! Thanks for a chance to win a copy. Adding it to my wishlist now.

  4. Melissa Crytzer Fry February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    What a fascinating story! It reminds me so much of the MISSED opportunity I had with an older gentleman who, in passing, said to me (in my early 20s), “I was on the Titanic.” How I wish, today, I’d have engaged in more conversation, instead of letting my ignorance of history stop me in my tracks. I lament that decision so, so often. That apartment building filled with a large percentage of seniors was a treasure trove of stories and lives fully lived.

    I can’t WAIT to read your novel. It went on my TBR the minute I learned of it.

  5. rhonda February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks so much for interview would love to read this book.

  6. Nicole February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like another good one!

  7. Heather February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Cascade sounds like a wonderful book and I love the story of how O’Hara conducted some of her research!

  8. Ann Ellison February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    What a wonderful story and sounds like a great book. Thanks for offering it as a give-away and I would love to read it.

  9. Barbara Anne Waite February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    We need to stop and ask folks for their stories. I loved it one day when a young man sat next to me on a long flight and his opening remark was,”tell me your story.” This sounds like a great read and the cover and title pull you in. I would love to read and review this book.

  10. Susan C. February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I love stories about small towns. Small town living to me is THE BEST there is.

  11. Kathy February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    What a lovely story this must be. I’ve dabbled in art and now in writing so the book would be right up my alley. The choices we face can be difficult but life-changing. I look forward to reading this book.

  12. Janet Hannah February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This books sounds very similar – at least the initial description. My grandparents home had to be moved and their farm was lost when their land was part of the valley that became Great Sacandaga Lake in upstate New York. Another damn and land flooded all for progress…. I didn’t really know my grandparents and didn’t think much about family history when my father and aunt were alive to ask what it was like back then… I love that the author met an artist from the past and that he touched her life so. The older generation has so much to offer us and we rarely take advantage of their years of life and wisdom.

  13. Kandra February 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I would love to read this!

  14. Katherine Jones February 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Very cool. Gotta love it when people surprise you–especially when they’re such nice surprises.

  15. Jeanne S. February 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Intriguing! That’s the word that best describes (I think) Cascade.

  16. Billie February 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I just finished the ART FORGER…loved it and I am an artist…taught art for 32 years…I am still doing workshops…I think I need to read this book!!!

  17. Jenny February 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I can’t wait to read this book! I love novels about art and artists.

  18. Nancy Terry February 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    What tales can be learned from seasoned seniors! I loved the background story…so now I await the book! Thanks for writing about such unique topics.

  19. karenk February 28, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    sounds like a great novel….looking forward to reading it 😉

  20. Maryanne O'Hara March 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks so much for guest-hosting me! It was a pleasure to write down this great memory.

    And thanks to all of you who commented so kindly. I hope you read Cascade, and that you enjoy it !

  21. Jaime H. March 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I have been interested in reading this since I first saw the amazing cover. Then, I read the description and so many great reviews, and it made me even more interested!

  22. Janet Estridge March 4, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I love the time period of the 30’s and would love to add this book to my collection.

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