"1915. The dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls. Seventeen-year-old Bess Heath has led a sheltered existence as the youngest daughter of the director of the Niagara Power Company. After graduation day at her boarding school, she is impatient to return to her picturesque family home near Niagara Falls. But when she arrives, nothing is as she left it. Her father has lost his job at the power company, her mother is reduced to taking in sewing from the society ladies she once entertained, and Isabel, her vivacious older sister, is a shadow of her former self. She has shut herself in her bedroom, barely eating—and harbouring a secret.
The night of her return Bess meets Tom Cole by chance on a trolley platform. She finds herself inexplicably drawn to him—against her family’s strong objections. He is not from their world. Rough-hewn and fearless, he lives off what the river provides and has an uncanny ability to predict the whims of the falls. His daring river rescues render him a local hero and cast him as a threat to the power companies that seek to harness the power of the falls for themselves. As their lives become more fully entwined, Bess is forced to make a painful choice between what she wants and what is best for her family and her future."
This historical novel focuses on a truly intriguing time in the history of Niagara Falls- one of the great wonders of the world. Well-written and well-imagined, this book is a love story with an environmental message, an unlikely combination that works nevertheless. The characters rise off the page and live, from poor doomed Isabelle to gutsy Bess and mysterious Tom. Once I started the book, I had a hard time putting it down because the story was carrying me along. I really enjoyed how Buchanan made the river and the falls themselves essential characters in the story; it is the contrast of petty human problems against that magnificent backdrop that makes this book so good. Four strong stars for this enjoyable read.