Mary Casanova is the author of thirty-nine books — most of which have been written for young readers. Waterfall is her third adult novel set on Rainy Lake in northern Minnesota. Waterfall is the story of Trinity Baird who has recently returned to the family’s summer home after nearly two years at Oak Hills Asylum, where she was committed for hysteria. The year is 1922, women have just gotten the vote, and Trinity is a young woman struggling to assert her independence in a society that defines respectable women within the narrow confines of marriage and motherhood. Trinity is a gifted artist and wishes to continue her studies in Paris, a privilege afforded only through her family’s wealth and generosity. Walking a fine line between pleasing her family and living an authentic life, Trinity gradually grows strong enough to speak her truth.
Mary Casanova shines a dim light upon the early treatment of mental illness, the infantilization of women in the early twentieth century, and drug addiction in the privileged class. Though heavy subjects, the novel treats all these things with a light hand, so readers who prefer their historical fiction to be unburdened by the darker aspects of the early twentieth century, should still find WATERFALL appealing. The story of resilience and resistance as told through Trinity’s experience may also appeal to teen readers.