Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Review: The Other Side of the Bridge

I read Mary Lawson's Crow Lake two years ago (very short review here) and was mesmerized. I've had The Other Side of the Bridge on TBR list since then. As much as I loved Crow Lake (a lot), I am happy to say that Lawson's second novel is even better. I read this immediately after The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a wildly popular book right now (my review here). I wish I had read one not-so-good book between the two, because The Other Side of the Bridge was so outstanding that it did somewhat diminish my appreciation of Guernsey.

This novel tells the stories of brothers Jake and Arthur Dunn beginning in the 1930s, alternating with the story of teenager Ian Christopherson 20 years later. They all live in an isolated town in northern Canada, where some souls thrive and some shrivel up and must escape. Jake and Arthur are brothers with a Cain-and-Abel relationship. Lawson handles this familiar theme beautifully. Jake and Arthur are so fully portrayed that I could see them, and that is not always easy for me as a reader. Alternating chapters tell Ian's story, which intersects with the adult Arthur and his family. Ian is the son of the town's doctor and destined to become the third Dr. Christopherson.

Sometimes I finish the last few chapters of a book and feel as if the author was just tired of writing and wrapped things up too neatly, or not enough. One of the things that Lawson does so well is to tell these two stories, bring them together, provide closure, and never give the reader a sense of hurrying the story along. She is a stunning writer.

If you enjoyed the popular Crow Lake, you will love The Other Side of the Bridge. If you haven't read either, you are in for a couple of fantastic novels.


Literary Feline said...

I am so glad to hear this one is even better! I liked Crow Lake, but never really felt completely connected with any of the characters. I would like to give the author another try. Thanks for the great review.

Yeo KeeHui said...

Good review.