Other Side of the Bridge [NOOK Book]


Arthur and Jake: brothers, yet worlds apart. Arthur is older, shy, dutiful, and set to inherit his father's farm. Jake is younger and reckless, a dangerous to know. When Laura arrives in their 1930s rural community, an already uneasy relationship is driven to breaking point...

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Other Side of the Bridge

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Arthur and Jake: brothers, yet worlds apart. Arthur is older, shy, dutiful, and set to inherit his father's farm. Jake is younger and reckless, a dangerous to know. When Laura arrives in their 1930s rural community, an already uneasy relationship is driven to breaking point...

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Editorial Reviews

Frances Taliaferro
There's an almost Sophoclean momentum as events rush to their end. The reader prays that inescapable harm will not come to good people. But the novel's true literary antecedent is in Genesis: the story of Esau and Jacob, brothers in a dysfunctional family where each parent has a favorite child and the younger son can think circles around the older. Lawson honors these archetypes by using them discreetly; biblical undertones simply add to the story's richness.

The Other Side of the Bridge is an admirable novel. Its old-fashioned virtues were also apparent in Crow Lake—narrative clarity, emotional directness, moral context and lack of pretension—but Lawson has ripened as a writer, and this second novel is much broader and deeper. The author draws her characters with unobtrusive humor and compassion, and she meets one of the fiction writer's most difficult challenges: to portray goodness believably, without sugar or sentiment.
—The Washington Post

Publishers Weekly
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.
Library Journal
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.
Kirkus Reviews
Another note-perfect take on coming of age in northern Canada, as beautiful as the landscape is stark, from Lawson (Crow Lake, 2002). Jake and Arthur are as dissimilar as brothers can be. Arthur, stolid and strong, takes after their farmer father, which is a great help as the Depression hits even their self-sufficient village of Struan. Quicksilver younger brother Jake is their mother's favorite. She admires his good looks and wit, but is blind to his selfishness. The brothers are so different that the story's crisis feels inevitable. Assigned to walk cows to a neighbor's farm, Arthur patiently leads a nervous heifer over a rickety bridge, while Jake fools around on the bridge's underside. When Jake calls out that the cow's movements might make him fall, Arthur responds with one rare word, "Good," that will haunt him throughout life. Cut to 20 years later, and Arthur is in charge of the family farm, still silent, still suffering, despite a healthy family and lovely wife. This second story focuses on young Ian, the son of Struan's doctor, who obsesses over Arthur's wife. As he wrestles with his own legacy, he becomes more involved with Arthur's, bringing about an event that will lay bare several secrets. With all the elements of melodrama, Lawson instead crafts a deftly interwoven story of family and loss. Jake's not evil, just bored. He, like Ian's mother, isn't valued in this hardscrabble climate, where his father and brother miss his school play due to errands. "Farming's important. Work's important. Time he knew what matters and what doesn't." The calm and beauty of the setting pervade Lawson's second novel, intensifying the heartfelt pull of its simple human drama. Agent: FelicityRubinstein/Lutyens & Rubinstein
From the Publisher
“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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440336372
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/26/2006
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 180,787
  • File size: 397 KB

Meet the Author

Mary Lawson's first novel, Crow Lake, was admired by critics and adored by readers all over the world; translated into 19 languages and published in 21 countries, it was a New York Times bestseller and spent 75 weeks on the bestseller lists in her native Canada. She was born and brought up in a farming community in Ontario, a distant relative of L. M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. Lawson came to England in 1968, is married with two grown-up sons and lives in Kingston-upon-Thames. Her acclaimed first novel was chosen by You magazine for its Reading Group and won the McKitterick Prize.

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Read an Excerpt

The Other Side of the Bridge

By Mary Lawson

The Dial Press

Copyright © 2006

Mary Lawson

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-385-34037-0

Chapter One

FireFighters Battle BushFire

Lost Bear Hunter Located by Plane: In Bush 40 Hours
-Temiskaming Speaker, May 1957

On a small farm about two miles outside Struan there lived a beautiful woman.
She was tall and willowy with a lot of fair hair that she drew back into a thick
plait and tied with whatever came to hand-a bit of frayed ribbon, an elastic
band, an old piece of string. On Sundays she rolled it into a shining ball at
the nape of her neck and fastened it somehow so that it wouldn't fall down
during church. Her name was Laura Dunn. Laura, her own name, soft and beautiful
like she was; Dunn, her husband's name, solid and lumpen like her husband.
Arthur Dunn was a farmer, a big, heavyset man with a neck at least twice the
width of his wife's, and to Ian, sitting with his parents three pews behind, he
looked about as exciting as dishwater.

Ian had first noticed Laura Dunn when he was fourteen-she must have been around
all his life but that was the year he became aware of her. She would have been
about thirty at the time. She and Arthur had three children, or possibly four.
Ian wasn't sure-he'd never paid any attention to the children.

For a year he made do with watching her in church on Sundays-the Dunns came into
town for church every Sunday without fail. Then, when hewas fifteen, Ian's
father said that he should get a job working Saturdays and holidays and start
saving up for his further education, the theory being that you appreciated
things more if you'd helped to pay for them yourself. Ian couldn't recall anyone
asking him if he wanted more education-it was another of the many assumptions
people made about his life-but in this particular case he didn't argue. He got
on his bike and cycled out to the Dunns' farm.

The farm was an oddity in the Struan area because Arthur Dunn still worked his
land with horses. It wasn't because he couldn't afford a tractor-the farm was
prosperous enough-and it wasn't through any religious convictions like the
Mennonites farther south. When asked about it Arthur would study the ground
thoughtfully, as if the question had never occurred to him before, and then say
that he guessed he liked horses. No one bought that explanation, though. They
all believed that Arthur had been put off tractors years earlier, when his
father got one and drove it down to the lower forty, where he rolled it into a
ditch and killed himself, all within two hours of its arrival on the farm. Even
the youngest and least intelligent of the plow horses would have known better
than to fall into a ditch. The day after the funeral Arthur got rid of the
tractor and harnessed up the team again and he'd been plodding along behind them
ever since.

He was out in the fields when Ian cycled up to the farm. Ian saw him, off in the
distance, being towed along by two great heavy-footed animals like a picture
postcard of a time gone by. Ian leaned his bike up against the pump, which he
guessed would only be used to fill the water trough-all but the most remote
farms in the area had running water, and electricity too; they'd been connected
up to the grid two years ago, when the power lines were run in for the sawmill.

Ian picked his way between the chickens to the back door. There was a front door
on the other side of the house, but he figured no one ever used it. It would
lead into the sitting room, where probably no one ever sat, whereas the back
door led into the kitchen, which was where life would be lived. He could hear
Laura Dunn talking as he climbed the three steps to the door. The inner door was
open, letting the sound of voices out, but the screen door was closed, making it
difficult to see in. She was scolding one of the kids, by the sound of it,
though Ian couldn't make out the words because a baby was crying. Her voice
wasn't sharp and sarcastic, as Ian's mother's voice tended to be when she was
annoyed about something. It was exasperated, but still gentle and light, or so
it seemed to Ian.

There was a lull in the baby's crying and Ian, standing on the top step with his
hand lifted, ready to knock on the door, heard Laura Dunn say, "Well for
goodness' sake, Carter, couldn't you share it? Couldn't you let her have a
turn?" And a boy's voice said, "She never shares hers!" and a little girl's
voice wailed, "I do so!" and the baby started to howl again. There was the sound
of a chair being scuffed along the floor and then the screen door was flung
open, nearly knocking Ian off the step, and a boy charged out. He gave Ian a
startled, angry glance before jumping off the steps and disappearing around the
side of the house. He looked about twelve years old and had the sort of face,
Ian thought, that made you want to hit him. The sullen, sulky face of a kid who
thinks the world's against him.

The screen door slammed closed again and Laura Dunn appeared behind it. She gave
a start when she saw Ian standing there and said, "Oh! Oh ... hello! It's Ian,
isn't it? Dr. Christopherson's son?"

"Yes," Ian said. "Um, yes ... um, I've come to talk to Mr. Dunn ... about a
job. I wondered if he'd be taking on anyone this summer. I mean, full-time this
summer, but maybe Saturdays right away, and then full-time once the holidays

He felt himself flushing. He was gabbling, because she was so near, just inches
away behind the screen door, and she was looking at him, directly and only at
him, with those wonderful soft eyes, eyes that he'd noticed always seemed
shadowed, as if they contained deep, unfathomable mysteries, or-the possibility
occurred to him now, what with the crying of the baby and the behavior of the
kids-as if she were tired all the time.

"Oh," she said. "Oh, well yes, I'm sure he'd be glad of some help. Just a
minute, Ian.... I'll come out. Just a minute."

She disappeared. Ian heard her say something to somebody and then she reappeared
with a baby in her arms. A little girl was behind her, but she shrank back when
she saw Ian standing there. He moved down off the steps and Laura came out,
bouncing the baby gently up and down on her hip. The baby was fat and sexless,
like all babies, and had round, unconvincing tears rolling down its cheeks. It
and Ian looked at each other and the baby gave a sort of snort, as if it didn't
think much of what it saw, and put its thumb in its mouth.

"There, now," Laura said, brushing the top of its head with her lips. "That's
better. This is Ian. Say hello to Ian."

"Hi," Ian said. He smiled warily at the baby. It stared back and then curled up
and buried its face in the folds of Laura's dress, its free hand clutching
possessively at her breast. Ian quickly looked down at his feet.

"The thing is, you'll really need to speak to Arthur," Laura was saying. "He's
plowing at the moment." She nodded in the direction of the picture-postcard view
of her husband. "If you'd like to go out and have a word with him ... just
along that track there." She looked doubtfully at Ian's bike. "Only I think
you'd be better to walk. The horses cut up the path a bit.... But I'm sure
he'll be pleased-it's so hard to get help. Men nowadays don't know how to deal
with horses, you see." She smiled at him. "But maybe you like them. Is that why
you've come?"

"Well, sort of," Ian said. He hadn't given the work of the farm-the actual job
he was applying for-a thought. Arthur Dunn could have hitched his plow to a
moose, for all he cared. At the moment all his attention was taken up with
trying not to look at the baby, which had now, unbelievably, wormed its hand
inside its mother's dress and was tugging at what it found in there, all the
while making fretful smacking noises with its lips.

Laura gently disengaged the small hand. "Shush," she said to the baby. She
smiled at Ian again, seeming not to notice his embarrassment. "Come back and let
me know what he says, all right?"

Ian nodded, and turned, his mind filled to the brim with the nearness of her,
her overwhelming presence, and made his way down the muddy track to where Arthur
Dunn was plodding up and down the furrows behind his horses. Arthur Dunn, so
solid, so dull, so obviously unworthy of such a wife. Arthur Dunn, who, when he
saw Ian approaching, halted his team and came across the field to meet him, and
said yeah, sure, he could use a hand, and would Ian like to start this coming

Ian's grandfather had been Struan's first resident doctor, and when he'd
answered the "Doctor Wanted" advertisement they'd put in a Toronto medical
journal, the grateful townspeople built him a house just a block west of Main
Street, a couple of hundred yards from the lake. It was a handsome wooden
structure, white-painted and green-trimmed, with lawns on all four sides and a
white picket fence surrounding the lawns. In the early days there was a neat
white stable for the horse and buggy twenty yards from the house. Later the
first Dr. Christopherson acquired a Buick Roadster, which became as much a part
of him as his old black leather medical bag, and a garage was added beside the
stable. He kept the horse for use in winter, when the back roads around Struan
were impassable by anything except a sled. His son, the present Dr.
Christopherson (who also drove a Buick, though his was the sedan), was sometimes
heard lamenting the absence of the sled even now, given the state of the town's
one and only snowplow.

As much as anything else, the building of the house had been a statement of
faith on the part of the people of Struan. Until then they'd had to go to New
Liskeard if they required a doctor, and if you needed medical help badly enough
to make the journey to New Liskeard, the odds were that you were in no state to
make the journey. Getting their own doctor was a sign that the town had arrived.
In the brief interval between applying the final coat of paint and the arrival
of Dr. Christopherson, the people of Struan found excuses to walk past the house
and admire it. You looked at that house and you thought, this is no fly-by-night
northern settlement sprung up around a sawmill; any town that can afford to
build its doctor a house like this is here to stay.

Ian was aware of most of this personal and civic history, and as far as he was
concerned his grandfather must have been raving mad. Imagine voluntarily leaving
a city like Toronto to come to a hick town like Struan. And though you could
excuse his grandfather's mistake on the grounds of ignorance-he couldn't have
had any real idea what he was coming to-there was no such excuse for Ian's
father. He had been born and brought up in Struan, and had then escaped, but
after living in Toronto for almost a decade while he took his medical degree and
worked in the Sick Children's Hospital, he had returned to Struan to take over
his father's practice. Ian couldn't understand it. Why would anyone do such a
thing? What was Struan, apart from a sawmill? A sorry bunch of stores lined up
along a dusty main street, with nothing in them anyone would want to buy. A
couple of churches. The Hudson's Bay Company. A post office. A bank. Harper's
Restaurant. Ben's Bar. A hotel-because, incredibly, some people chose to come to
Struan for their holidays-and a little clutch of holiday cottages down by the
lake. The lake was the town's only asset, in Ian's opinion. It was large-fifty
miles long, north to south, and almost twenty miles across-and deep, and very
clear, surrounded on all sides by low granite hills studded with spruce and
wind-blasted pines. Its shore was so ragged with bays and inlets and islands
that you could spend your life exploring and never find half of them. When Ian
dreamed of leaving the town, which he did all the time nowadays, the thought of
leaving the lake was the only thing that bothered him. The lake and Laura Dunn.

He parked his bike up against the veranda of the house, climbed the wide wooden
steps to the porch, and went in. The door to his father's office was closed and
he could hear voices behind it, but the waiting room was empty, so Ian sat down
on one of the dozen or so battered old chairs lining the walls and flicked
through a two-year-old copy of Reader's Digest while he thought about Laura
Dunn. The wavy strands of her hair escaped from their elastic band and drifted
around her face. Those shadowed eyes. Her breasts. He'd noticed-he couldn't help
noticing-that on the front of her dress there had been two wet circles where her
breasts had leaked milk.

The door to the office opened and Ted Pickett, owner of Pickett's Hardware, came
out with his arm in a sling. He nodded at Ian and grimaced and Ian grimaced
back. Patients entered the house by a side door but both the office and the
waiting room were right off the hall, so all his life he'd been used to seeing
people going in and out in varying degrees of anguish, and he'd got his
responses down pat.

"He doesn't think it's broken," Mr. Pickett said.

"That's lucky," Ian said.

"He thinks it's just sprained. Hurts like hell though."

Ian nodded sympathetically. "Did you fall off the ladder?" There was a ladder on
wheels in the hardware store that Mr. Pickett scooted around on, reaching for
nails or nuts or brackets or hinges, an accident waiting to happen.

"Yeah," Mr. Pickett said, looking surprised. "How did you know?"

"I just ... kind of ... wondered," Ian said politely.

When Mr. Pickett left he knocked on his father's door and went in.

"I've got a job," he said. His father had his back to him. He was rolling
bandages and placing them neatly back in their drawer. His desk was littered
with papers-patients' notes, medical journals, bills-but the tools of his trade
were always properly put away.

"That was quick," he said.

"Arthur Dunn's farm," Ian said. "He said I could start Saturday."

His father turned around and took off his glasses and blinked at him. "Arthur
Dunn's farm?"

"Yes, you know ... doing ... farm work."

"Farm work." His father nodded vaguely, as if trying to imagine it.

"I thought I'd like something outdoors," Ian said.

Dr. Christopherson put his glasses back on and looked out the window. It had
just started to rain. "Yes," he said doubtfully. "Well ... if that's what you
want. Arthur's a nice fellow." He looked dubiously at Ian. "It'll be hard work,
you know."

"I know," Ian said.

"Did you see the horses?"


"Magnificent animals."

"Yes," Ian said, though he had barely noticed them. He and his father smiled at
each other, glad to be in agreement. They were usually in agreement, unlike Ian
and his mother.

Next he went and told his mother, who was watching I Love Lucy in the living
room. Television had finally-finally!-reached Struan a couple of months earlier,
proof, if more were needed, of how backward things were up here. Ian's mother
had disapproved of it at first, but now she watched it more than he did. In
fact, just lately she seemed to watch it all the time. She was supposed to be in
with his father-she was his nurse-but apart from the odd emergency, Ian hadn't
seen her in the office for weeks.

"Mum?" he said, standing in the doorway. She was in one of her absent moods-he
could tell even though he couldn't see her face. She had two moods nowadays,
absent or annoyed, and whichever one she was in he invariably found he preferred
the other.

"Mum?" he said again. She turned her head a few degrees, not taking her eyes off
the screen.

"I've got a job," Ian said.

She turned a little more and met his eyes, and he saw the glazed look fade as
she focused on him.

"What was that?" she said.

"I said I've got a job."

"Oh," she said. She smiled at him. "That's good." She turned back to the
television. Ian waited a minute but there was no further response, so he went
into the kitchen to get a reaction from Mrs. Tuttle instead. She was breading
chicken pieces for supper, dipping each piece in a bowl of beaten egg and then
slapping it back and forth in a dish of bread crumbs.

"I've got a job, Mrs. Tuttle," Ian said.

"Have you now?" she said, placing a breaded breast down on the baking tray and
taking a pale, slippery-looking chicken leg from the hacked-up carcass on the
chopping board. "That's exciting. What is it?"

"Helping Mr. Dunn on his farm."

She paused, then turned her head to look at him. Her glasses were splattered
with the day's cooking-a dusting of flour from the tea biscuits, a little smear
of butter, a scattering of crumbs-even what looked to be a shred of carrot peel.
"Goodness!" she said, ducking her head in order to look over the top of them.
"Whatever did you want a job like that for?" Which was what he'd expected her to
say, and therefore satisfying in its way, so he smiled at her and left.


Excerpted from The Other Side of the Bridge
by Mary Lawson
Copyright © 2006 by Mary Lawson.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. How were you affected by the novel’s prologue? What did you discover about Arthur and Jake in this scene? How did your perceptions of the brothers change throughout the book?

2. How would you answer the questions that conclude the prologue? What accounts for the differences between those who follow the rules, like Arthur, and those who defy them? Which came more easily for you as an adolescent: obedience or defiance?

3. How were Jake and Arthur affected by their family dynamic? Did their mother pamper Jake too much? Did their father favor Arthur because he was easier to manage, or was Jake difficult to manage because of his father’s favoritism?

4. What was the effect of the novel’s timeline? How did it compare to your own experience of the continuum between present moments and memory? What parallels run between Ian’s life and Arthur’s?

5. Discuss the use of the headlines that open each chapter. What do they say about the local and global concerns of humanity? In what way were the headlines timeless, and in what way did they convey the unique attributes of this locale? What headlines would be most significant in marking the chapters of your life?

6. What is the significance of the two time periods in the lives of the characters? How were the Dunn brothers shaped by a youth of economic hardship and the presence of POWs? How was Ian shaped by an era of greater liberation, with television for entertainment and “risqué” music on the radio? What dreams for the future did each of these generations possess?

7. Discuss the nature of love and marriage as described in the novel. What made Jake so irresistible to Laura? What made Dr. Christopherson’s wife choose another man? Was Laura’s appeal strictly physical when she first moved to town? What is the riskiest romantic decision you have made?

8. How are the characters shaped by the novel’s setting? What do the natural surroundings of the town mean to them? What separates those who want to escape from those who bask in the town’s familiarity?

9. Why is Ian so transformed by the “day of the dragonflies” that concludes chapter nine? What did these memories mean to him?

10. Discuss the novel’s title. What does it mean for the characters to reach the other side of the bridge? Could Jake and Arthur ever be free of the wounds they inflicted on each other?

11. Who ultimately was responsible for Jake’s fall from the bridge? Who ultimately paid the price (literally, in terms of his medical bills, and figuratively as well)?

12. How did you react to the knowledge that Ian followed in his father’s footsteps after all? Did he make the right decision?

13. Laura confides in Arthur soon after meeting him, telling him she doesn’t believe that God cares about humanity (Chapter Ten). How would you have responded to her?

14. Discuss the cycles of tragedy conveyed in the Dunn family history, from the death of Arthur’s father to the closing scenes of Carter. How do characters cope with the concepts of fate versus intent? How do they cope with regret?

15. What common threads link the families in this novel to those in Crow Lake? What makes rural landscapes so appropriate for both of these storylines? Do you think people who grow up in cities feel the same passion for them as the characters in these two novels feel for the land?

16. If Matt Morrison, the brilliant and adored older brother in Crow Lake, had wandered into this book, which character do you think he would have had more in common with, Ian or Pete?

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful lessons in life here!

    Arthur and Jake are brothers, opposite to the core. Arthur, uncommunicative, but responsible, is a bit slow but doesn't have a vindictive bone in his body. Jake, however, is the younger, handsome, charming, smart, spoiled, but irresponsible and careless of people's feelings and a bit cruel and manipulative. After years of being pushed around by his brother, Arthur does eventually break. By his own inaction he causes an accident to happen to Jake, and spends the rest of his life living through the guilt. This is an incredible, heartbreaking and heartwarming portrait weaving a story of love and loss, of family and their expectations. Wonderful lessons in life here!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    What a magnificent book Mary Lawson has written. The most remarkable thing about it is the quiet assurance with which she writes a very even-keeled, almost uneventful, country coming-of-age story that in the end utterly devastates with its culminating events. I couldn't move--even to turn the page and keep reading the final few pages--in the minutes immediately after reading the climax. I was utterly lost in my own consideration of the myriad and colliding lines of moral culpability and human frailty and basic goodness that give the story its almost brute impact. For a second-time writer, that she exercises such restraint in drawing her characters is remarkable. All but one come across us utterly believable 'and that one almost succeeds'. And although the climactic event borders on the too-melodramatic, it still somehow works because *that* it could happen--that it almost had to happen--is so utterly credible. Based on reviews of her earlier book, Lawson is seen as a 'women's writer,' but this is really a story about boys and men, fathers and brothers. It's a story that any man with brothers or a relationship with his father that is less than fully open emotionally can and should read too.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Perfect read for a slower rhythm and a slower way of life, I loved it !

    Sometimes it isn't the fast pace of the read, but the slowness of the rhythm that makes you fall in love with the characters, setting, and way of life. I liked the time difference within the book, from late 1930's through the war, but also the 1960's and the effects the past made on the present.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    The Other Side of the Bridge

    An engrossing story about two brothers growing up on a farm in the mid-30's who are completely different in every way. One is the mother's favorite and can do no wrong, the other follows his dad's footsteps in farming the land. They via for the same girl but the end is disastrous. A second great novel by the author Mary Lawson, whose first book "Crow Lake" was wonderful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2007

    A great read

    This book is beautifully written and tells a captivating story. I had a hard time putting it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2007

    Great writing, great reading

    I loved this book. It was gritty, real, tender, clever, insightful and conveyed a wondrous sense of place...and the author was so skillful as to make a sophisticated city reader identify (painfully) with the limited, taciturn but sympathetic Arthur Dunn. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013


    Great novel. Wonderful, interesting characters. Riveting plot. This book should win a "bunch" of prizes. A++++++ I wish I could give it 10 stars.

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  • Posted January 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    "They sat on in silence, or almost silence; if you listened closely you could just hear a faint thrumming from thousand of wings. Beyond the dragonflies the sun was sinking slowly, casting its rays across the lake, on either side. Everything as far as the eye could see was slowly dissolving into the haze. Ian thought, If I live to be a hundred years old, I will always remember this." <BR/><BR/><BR/>Mary Lawson has done it again in her second novel. Beautifully written, we are introduced into the farming community of Straun in Ontario. The characters are ordinary people but such fine people as we see in patient and long suffering good hearted; Arthur Dunn, his brother Jake; handsome, devious and charming, the complete opposite of Arthur. They, having just suffered the death of their father are left with two big farms to manage. This is no easy job as the World War is on, and as Arthur has just been declared unfit for the army, he decides that he will play his part by at least growing the food that will feed the and the army. He goes by diligently; working morning to evening, so very hard on the farm, themn marries the most beauteous woman in the world Laura, who bears three lovely children. They live comfortable lives but their private life is about to be interrupted as Jake returns to the farm after years of living in many varied areas of the world and with his wary ways continues where he has left off. Other people are not happy to see him especially his brother. The people who passed through the life of the Dunns, and they themselves will quietly entertain you. I highly recommend this fine work by Mary Lawson. <BR/>Reviewed by Sugar-Cane, Bridgetown, Barbados. 01/01/09

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2008

    A little disappointing

    I always read reviews before reading books (but don't always let them decide my next read), so I was very excited to read The Other Side of the Bridge based on it's reviews/ratings. I quickly become disappointed, as the first half of the book failed to grab my attention. I continued reading and as the story progressed, I became more interested, however, the story became pretty predicatable. I typically read 2 or 3 books a week, but it took me approximately a week and a half to get through this book, b/c I wasn't motivated to read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 22, 2011

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    Posted May 15, 2011

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    Posted June 10, 2011

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    Posted July 13, 2011

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    Posted July 11, 2010

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    Posted November 23, 2012

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