by Mary Casanova
In her third Rainy Lake historical drama, Mary Casanova takes us back to pristine and rugged northern Minnesota. It’s 1922, women have won the right to vote, and Trinity Baird is of age. But at 21, and after nearly two years at Oak Hills Asylum, she returns to her family’s island summer home with her self-confidence in tatters and her mind seared by haunting memories. Her parents are oblivious to what they have put her through and instead watch their daughter for the least sign of defiance. Trinity struggles to be the “respectable” young woman her parents (especially her mother) demand, so that she can return to her independent life studying art and painting in Paris. She never wants to go back to Oak Hills, where they “treat” hysterical, i.e., unconventional, young women.
With enough talent and ambition to be accepted into the Sorbonne, Trinity had hoped she would be well on her way as an artist by now. On the island, she returns to what sustains her: painting. While her love for this beautiful place is deep and abiding, the few months ahead present a near-impossible task: recover the strong sense of self she’s nearly lost during her time away, while holding off her powerful family’s efforts to coerce her into submission. When her parents arrive on Baird Island, her father brings along a promising young architect to help with plans to build new guest cabins. Trinity suspects her parents are trying to introduce yet another marriage prospect. Or might she have found an ally?
Informed by historical figures, by the burgeoning growth of women’s rights in the early twentieth century, and the complicated issue of mental illness and how “difficult” women were silenced, Waterfall offers a compelling story of an inspired, ambitious, and soulful young woman’s fight to find her way.
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