Lawson, Mary "The Other Side of the Bridge" - 2006
After I read the first book by Mary Lawson, "Crow Lake", I had to read this one. I loved it just as much. I've heard people who said this one was better and maybe it is, I just wouldn't be able to tell which one was the greater one. Anyway, must think of more comments which is difficult as I don't want to give away too much.
We then discussed it in our book club a couple of years later.
The biggest topic of the book was the sibling rivalry, two brothers growing up on a farm in Canada in the 1930s, the mother favouring the younger son for various reasons. Then there is the generational conflict, the change of time, farm work now and then, modernization, parents' expectations in their children, small town life, prisoners of war, lots of different issues.
One of our book club members said this was like watching a film. The fact that it was a slower paced book still meant you could read it quite quickly. We got great looks at the characters, saw the different strengths and weaknesses, tragedies. We all know many towns like that. The way the author introduced the different families and how they interconnected was considered interesting.
The book made us think, the humour in it was good, the end was a bit rushed. A lot of the farm description reminded of grandparents (or parents in case of us more "mature" members).
From the back cover:
"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...'
If you liked "Crow Lake", this is the book for you. I think everyone will find something personal in this novel.
We discussed this in our international book club in September 2008.