A Novel

by Barbara Lalla

308 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.00 in

  • Paperback
  • 9789766402334
  • Published: October 2010



“Do not go gentle into that good night.” I write it in blood on the walls of my mind.

A guesthouse in Jamaica’s mountains offers the ideal retreat for elderly friends weary of changes that have transformed their city, and a plan takes shape to retire together in the country house overlooking the sea. Terrorized by gunmen in their Kingston home, however, Ellie and Dan relocate to Trinidad instead, splintering off from the group to join their daughter’s family, yet keeping in close contact with Dan’s sister, whose stepson will run the home. Against the development of Cascade, under its dangerously inept manager, unfolds a tale of violent intrusion and dislocation, of cold-blooded exploitation and murderous resentment.

Yet it is also a tale of love and courage persisting through physical and mental deterioration as a brilliant and compassionate woman struggles with a disease that can wreck the relationships she treasures most. Damaged by Alzheimer’s and irrepressible by nature, Ellie proves thoroughly disruptive even within her own supportive circle. Beyond it, relocated to Cascade, she becomes a witness haunted by fragments of excruciating memory. As time overtakes the main characters, tricks of the mind intersect with actual events and with the increasingly menacing forces that close in on the fragile Ellie.

Cascade recounts the gathering trauma of psychological dismemberment and poignant efforts to connect against a background of social turmoil. The novel engages with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease in a Caribbean context, where displacement, memory, identity loss and resistance remain crucial and enduring preoccupations.

Cascade is an accomplished work of fiction by a writer of obvious talent. It examines the subject of growing old with sensitive honesty, through the stories of three main characters. Ellie succumbs to Alzheimer’s disease, her husband Dan suffers slow physical debilitation even as his mental faculties remain sharp, and Dan’s sister’s Rosemarie, though still sound in body and mind, finds her freedom impaired by the selfishness and cruelty of younger relatives.