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The Other Side of the Bridge
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About the Author

Mary Lawson was born and brought up in a farming community in central Ontario. She moved to England in 1968, is married with two sons and lives in Kingston-upon-Thames. This is her second novel.

Reviews

In this follow-up to her acclaimed Crow Lake, Lawson again explores the moral quandaries of life in the Canadian North. At the story's poles are Arthur Dunn, a stolid, salt-of-the-earth farmer, and his brother, Jake, a handsome, smooth-talking snake in the grass, whose lifelong mutual resentments and betrayals culminate in a battle over the beautiful Laura, with Arthur, it seems, the unlikely winner. Observing, and eventually intervening in their saga, is Ian, a teenager who goes to work on Arthur's farm to get close to Laura, seeing in her the antithesis of the mother who abandoned his father and him. It's a standard romantic dilemma who to choose: the goodhearted but dull provider or the seductive but unreliable rogue? but it gains depth by being set in Lawson's epic narrative of the Northern Ontario town of Struan as it weathers Depression, war and the coming of television. It's a world of pristine landscapes and brutal winters, where beauty and harshness are inextricably intertwined, as when Ian brings home a puppy that gambols adorably about and then playfully kills Ian's even cuter pet bunny. Lawson's evocative writing untangles her characters' confused impulses toward city and country, love and hate, good and evil. (Oct. 3) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

At the center of Lawson's follow-up to her lauded debut, Crow Lake, are the antithetical personalities of two brothers the handsome and insidious Jake and Arthur, who's diffident and diligent. This stark contrast bursts into dangerous sibling rivalry when a girl named Laura comes between them. Lawson composes the novel in mutually enlightening chapters that vacillate between two different periods: the brothers' adolescence and early adulthood during World War II and a setting 20 years later, when Arthur and Laura are married, Jake has returned to Arthur's farm after a long absence, and Ian, a local boy who also is attracted to Laura, is working with Arthur. Lawson ingeniously uses this narrative structure to create immense tension by gradually disclosing the past Ian walks into and the unresolved hostility he unwittingly reignites in his adoration for Laura. The suspense of Arthur's impending explosion is a double-edged sword, though, as along the way his reticence depletes many events of their emotional impact. Despite this flaw, Lawson proves herself an adept chronicler of the conflicting dispositions and priorities that divide a family. Recommended for most fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.] David Doerrer, New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Lawson's gifts are enormous, especially her ability to write a literary work in a popular style. Her dialogue has perfect pitch, yet I've never read anyone better at articulating silence. Best of all, Lawson creates the most quotable images in Canadian literature." --Toronto Star

"I could not put it down, but perhaps better to say that I could not let it go or that it would not let me go . . . Lawson transported me into a place that I know does not exist by taking me deep down into the story of a family whose fate is inexorable and universal. Her reality became mine." --Globe and Mail

"One of the most eagerly awaited books of the autumn season. . . . The prologue draws you in, as does the novel, which is consistently well-written, involving and enjoyable to read. . . . Achingly real, known, [Arthur's] inner life, with all its shifts in understanding, emotion, perception and conflicted impulses, is rendered with compelling force in concise, supple prose." --Ottawa Citizen "[Lawson] returns to several of the themes that marked her brilliantly successful first novel, Crow Lake. . . . Lawson's cornucopia of novelistic gifts, even more bounteously on display in her second book, includes handsome, satisfying sentences, vivid descriptions of physical work and landscape and an almost fiendish efficiency in building the feeling that something very bad is about to happen." --National Post "An accomplished successor to [Crow Lake]. . . . With her cast of engaging characters, Lawson subtly but surely builds the dramatic tension toward a climax that changes the lives of both the Dunn and Christopherson families. Lawson's story is a coming-of-age tale for two generations of young men, a community and a country." --Quill & Quire "There's something timid yet masterful in Lawson's writing. She neither wastes nor wallows. Her characters do not so much develop as blossom into themselves, one petal after another. . . . This is a book you will be driven to share with friends." --Gazette (Montreal) "A devastating story . . . about pushing fate and dealing with the consequences. The main characters of Arthur and Ian are expertly drawn." --London Free Press

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