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The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson

The Other Side of the Bridge (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Mary Lawson

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8113411,231 (4.02)80
Title:The Other Side of the Bridge
Authors:Mary Lawson
Info:Vintage (2007), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:KEN - NAI
Tags:Canada, tbr

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The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson (2006)



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The whole idea of rivalry between brothers is timeless and has been around since Cain and Abel's time. But this book, although dealing with this age-old topic has a certain agelessness about it. Mary Lawson handles the subject with skill and with grace. The book is set in Northern Ontario. It covers the lives of two brothers for almost fifty years. Arthur is the oldest and he is the slow, steady and trustworthy brother who likes nothing better than helping his father on the farm. Jake is the younger brother and he is a hedonist - charming and sunny but not trustworthy. The two brothers are always competing for something whether it's a mother or father's love, marks in school or even the same woman. This rivalry goes on for the duration of the book which is almost fifty years, and we know that we are inexorably being drawn to a terrible conclusion. This is a powerful story that is very well written, filled with apprehension, tension and deceit. But there is hope in this book as well and we see this as we see the drama unfold through young Ian's eyes. I couldn't put it down. ( )
  Romonko | Dec 2, 2016 |
This was a beautiful coming of age story set in rural northern Canada. Arthur and Jake are as different as brothers can be. Arthur takes after his father. He's a strong solid man who kind and helpful, but not a good student. His mother insists he stay in school, even though he knows an education won't help him on the Depression era farm. Jake, the younger brother, is smart, articulate and his mother's pride and joy. She can't see his cruelty and manipulation. One day Arthur is tasked with walking some cows to a nearby farm. While leading them over a rickety bridge, Jake plays around under the bridge, which leads to an incident that will haunt Arthur for the rest of his life.

The Depression era story is interwoven twenty years later with a new narrator, Ian Christopherson, son of the local doctor. Ian has an adolescent crush on Arthur's beautiful wife, Laura, and decides their farm would be the perfect place for his summer job before heading off to college. Jake is nowhere around and no one mentions him.

I loved this book but I can't put my finger on exactly why. It's a beautifully written, character driven human drama that echoes the story of Esau and Jacob, with each parent having a favorite. It's such a subtle book, yet filled with tragedy, humanity, and decency. I have to read something else by this talented author. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jun 29, 2016 |
Review: The Other Side of The Bridge by Mary Lawson.

Mary Lawson creates interesting developed characters, a beautiful countryside setting, a vivid description of joys and hardships of rural life and a thread of connecting one generation to the next. This is a story about two brothers, Arthur and Jake Dunn who were completely opposite of each other. It’s another scenario of brother’s rivalry but still captivating, adventurous and well written. The characters are well developed with unobtrusive humor and compassion.

Author is the older silent obeying brother and after many miscarriages Jake was born, frail but overpowering as he got older. Jake turns out to be cruel, egotistic, cunning and a manipulator on all accounts. Because of his frailness he is coddled by his mother and Arthur and his father have know say and must put up with his spoilt attitude and his uncaring selfish acts. Then one day as a young boy Jake had an accident, by his own fault, which left him with a permanent limp. From that day on Arthur carried the guilt into his adult life because he felt he could have saved his brother and Jake made sure Arthur never forgot the accident.

As the years go on Arthur became a family man and took over his father’s farm while Jack travels destination unknown and lived on the edge of life. Jake never succumbed to the farming life as a boy or an adult. Then the story moves into the next generation where Arthur struggles to keep his farm and a friends farm from folding. He soon has to hire someone to help and that is where Ian, a teenager goes to work for him but not with the intent to farm, he had another reason to get close to Arthur’s family….He was a good kid even though he had other ideas, like Arthur’s wife Laura….

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story so I go on to say I liked the book, it kept me motivated to read on especially when Jake returns a few years later and the story places you at the edge of your seat when Ian changes his direction and thoughts….
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
lightweight but enjoyable and nicely written. ( )
  Darth-Heather | May 31, 2016 |
"He stood alone in the silence of the night, remembering. In his mind's eye he saw the two of them – always saw them the same, standing together, faces turned upwards. Clouds pale against the blue-black of the night. Stars cold and bright. The moon hanging there, pale and brilliant, clouds drifting across it like smoke. The sky and the silent land beneath it stretching on, and on, and on, so that he and his father were shrunk to almost nothing by the vastness of it." (233)

Two brothers, Arthur and Jake Dunn, growing up on their family’s farm in the fictional community of Struan in northern Ontario in the 1930s, are polar opposites. Arthur is dependable, dutiful, and set to inherit the farm; Jake, the younger of the two, is handsome, insolent, and dangerous to know. When the beautiful Laura March moves to Struan, the fragile balance of the brothers’ rivalry is moved to teetering on the edge of catastrophe. Two decades later, young Ian Christopherson, son of Struan’s only doctor, is moved by his infatuation with Arthur’s wife to seek employment on the Dunn farm. The novel is fraught with deceit, rivalry, and obsession, played out over nearly half a century. The small northern community survives the Great Depression better than many, but not so World War II, which rocks it to its very core.

The Other Side of the Bridge moves gently back and forth in time, each chapter opening with headlines from local newspaper, the Timiskaming Speaker, including month and year, which allow readers to place themselves easily within the story and within history. Lawson’s prose is just beautiful, creating, as the Toronto Star has noted, some of the “most quotable images in Canadian literature.” Highly, highly recommended. ( )
5 vote lit_chick | Jul 16, 2014 |
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There was a summer back when they were kids, when Arthur Dunn was thirteen or fourteen and his brother, Jake, was eight or nine, when for weeks on end Jake pestered Arthur to play the game he called knives.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385340389, Paperback)

From the author of the beloved #1 national bestseller Crow Lake comes an exceptional new novel of jealously, rivalry and the dangerous power of obsession.

Two brothers, Arthur and Jake Dunn, are the sons of a farmer in the mid-1930s, when life is tough and another world war is looming. Arthur is reticent, solid, dutiful and set to inherit the farm and his father’s character; Jake is younger, attractive, mercurial and dangerous to know – the family misfit. When a beautiful young woman comes into the community, the fragile balance of sibling rivalry tips over the edge.

Then there is Ian, the family’s next generation, and far too sure he knows the difference between right and wrong. By now it is the fifties, and the world has changed – a little, but not enough.

These two generations in the small town of Struan, Ontario, are tragically interlocked, linked by fate and community but separated by a war which devours its young men – its unimaginable horror reaching right into the heart of this remote corner of an empire. With her astonishing ability to turn the ratchet of tension slowly and delicately, Lawson builds their story to a shocking climax. Taut with apprehension, surprising us with moments of tenderness and humour, The Other Side of the Bridge is a compelling, humane and vividly evoked novel with an irresistible emotional undertow.

Arthur found himself staring down at the knife embedded in his foot. There was a surreal split second before the blood started to well up and then up it came, dark and thick as syrup.

Arthur looked at Jake and saw that he was staring at the knife. His expression was one of surprise, and this was something that Arthur wondered about later too. Was Jake surprised because he had never considered the possibility that he might be a less than perfect shot? Did he have that much confidence in himself, that little self-doubt?

Or was he merely surprised at how easy it was to give in to an impulse, and carry through the thought which lay in your mind? Simply to do whatever you wanted to do, and damn the consequences.

–from The Other Side of the Bridge

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:22 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The troubled relationship between two brothers--Arthur Dunn, the dutiful eldest son, and the mercurial, dangerous Jake--escalates when they are both drawn to a beautiful young woman.

(summary from another edition)

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