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The book buzz

Characters in ‘Cascade’ forced to make hard choices

“I didn’t set out to create a flawed character,’’ novelist Maryanne O’Hara said of the protagonist in her novel “Cascade.” “But in creating a female character who puts her art and ambition so totally and intensely above all relationships, she is inevitably going to be seen that way by some.”

O’Hara, raised in Ashland, set her debut novel in the fictitious town of Cascade, west of Boston, during the 1930s. The story is built around a real historical event — the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir — and the social upheaval in the region and the world at that time. But O’Hara feels she has created a female character who is timeless and could easily exist today.

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