Friday, October 19, 2007

The Other Side of the Bridge - Mary Lawson

The Basics: The Other Side of the Bridge, Mary Lawson, 2006, 359 pages, hardcover

How I found it: I was browsing the new Canadian fiction section at my local library and came across this book. I was given Lawson's first novel, Crow Lake, as a Christmas gift a few years ago. I wasn't enthralled by that book, but I decided to give Lawson another chance to wow me.

What's it about?: This novel takes place in a small town in northern Ontario. The story centers around the lives of Arthur Dunn and Ian Christopherson. Arthur is a generation older than Ian and is a farmer, while Ian is the son of the town doctor. The story revolves around how the two men interact, and their love of the same woman. Their respective family issues also play an important part. Arthur has a difficult relationship with his brother, while Ian has a difficult relationship with his mother. The lives of the two men, which could seem so disparate, are told in a careful parallel.

Did I like it?: I loved this book. I thought the plot was beautifully constructed. The way the lives of Arthur and Ian played off each other was fantastic. The character development was also very well done. Usually when I read a book with male protagonists I don't relate to them very well, but Lawson has done such a good job that I was able to empathize with both Ian and Arthur. I couldn't put this book down and was quite sad when it was over.

Will you like it?: I highly recommend this book. It's a great story with great characters and even a few plot twists to keep in interesting. The parallels between Arthur and Ian, and the title itself would make great discussions for a book group. Although this is a book I got from the library, I will most likely purchase a copy as I know I will want to read it again.

But don't take my word for it: The usual industry review snippets and reader reviews from Amazon, one from The Guardian, another from the Washington Post, one from the book loving website curled up, and finally one from the journal Canadian Literature.

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