Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Metro Reco: Mary Lawson

by Julie

The Other Side of the Bridge is Mary Lawson’s second novel (her first is the enormously successful Crow Lake). I hadn’t read Crow Lake when I picked this book up, so I had no idea what a treat I was in for (I remedied that very quickly once I finished this read).

The Other Side of the Bridge
is a compelling story I greedily consumed in 100 page sittings. It takes place in Struan, a fictional farming community in Northern Ontario. The central characters are two brothers: Arthur is honest, hardworking and shy, his younger brother Jake cunning and impetuous, yet charming. The narrative alternates between the account of the brothers’ adolescence during World War Two, and the story of Ian, son of the town doctor who takes a job on Arthur’s farm twenty years later. The past and the present, and lives of the three men, are fatefully intersected by Laura, the Reverend’s daughter.

Lawson’s voice is sure, her prose taut. She deftly handles her narrative; the story captivates from the foretelling first pages until the gut-wrenching climax.

Crow Lake was also a riveting read, if not quite as powerful as The Other Side of the Bridge. It takes place in another farming community, near Struan. The story centres around the Morrison children, who have lost their parents in a car accident: Luke (19), Matt (17), Katie (7) and toddler Bo. Luke sacrifices his parents’ dream for him to be the first in the family to go to university to keep the siblings together and allow his brilliant brother Matt to stay in school. The characters are well drawn-I particularly enjoyed the wilful Bo (the same age as Cakes), modelled after Lawson’s younger sister, Eleanor. Lawson’s thoughtful exploration of family dynamics had me thinking about my relationship with my brother and how the things I want for him are not necessarily what he wants (or needs) for himself.

Mary Lawson was born and raised in a farming community in Ontario and attended McGill University. She is a distant relative of L. M. Montgomery. Lawson lives in Kingston-upon-Thames, England and is married with two sons. The Other Side of the Bridge was nominated for the 2006 Booker Prize.

Julie has a baby girl and is currently working in the home. She keeps busy finishing her undergrad (English), caring for her family, reading lots of books, writing, and trying to figure out what the heck to do next.

Contact Julie at


Her Bad Mother said...

I usually don't go for rural-centric Can Lit, but you made this one sound tempting!

penelopeto said...

loved this one; very typical can-lit themes, but would definitely recommend it.

Haley-O said...

I've been wondering about these books....Thanks for the reviews!

Sandra said...

Sounds good .. I am tempted