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The Other Side of the Bridge

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  6,837 ratings  ·  788 reviews
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
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 28th 2007 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published September 26th 2006)
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Bob I guess I had no problem since I always saw Laura through the eyes of Ian. He's telling the story. He's being honest about how Laura appeared to him.…moreI guess I had no problem since I always saw Laura through the eyes of Ian. He's telling the story. He's being honest about how Laura appeared to him.(less)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,837 ratings  ·  788 reviews

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Angela M
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a place in northern Ontario, Canada called Struan. It’s a small town where the summers are green and young boys fish in Crow Lake and the winters are brutally cold and the roads are so deeply covered with snow that they keep people in. It’s a place where men are loggers, farmers or sawmill workers , or the one doctor caring for them all delivering babies, caring for sick children or trying to save the logger stabbed in a bar fight. It’s a place of families with good sons and bad sons, m ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this author’s work so much that I had to read this one right on the heels of Crow Lake. Written some decades after the story in Crow Lake, there are some characters who either appear in both novels themselves, or their descendants appear in the second novel.

Again, thank you to AngelaM, whose brilliant reviews of both of these novels are must-reads if you are at all interested in Mary Lawson’s work. Hint: her writing is exquisite, down to earth, yet so vivid you will believe you are actual
Aug 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most emotionally satisfying books I have read. Set in a small town in the far north of Canada, The Other Side Of The Bridge is constructed of two parallel narratives: the story of Arthur, a farmer's son growing up in the nineteen thirties and forties; and Ian, a doctor's son growing up twenty years later. The two stories intersect when Ian, aged sixteen, comes to work on Arthur's farm. The Scotsman described Mary Lawson as a 'master of the quiet moment made significant, with a ...more
Betsy Robinson
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This astoundingly simple but complicated story of sibling rivalry is the stuff of Greek tragedy, or Shakespeare, or Eugene O'Neill in the form of Mary Lawson's inimitable storytelling. Like her books Crow Lake and Road Ends , it takes place in the fictional northern Ontario town of Struan—a place so vivid that it becomes a running character in Lawson's books. Like the other books, the dialogue—and particularly the gaps filled with unspoken thoughts—is so real you can feel it breathe. In a ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
What a find! The setting for this novel is a small community in rural northern Ontario, the timeframe spans a few decades, from the 30s with the great depression, through the Second World War to the early 60s. The main characters are the Dunn brothers: Arthur and Jake, as different as they could be, one plain, quiet and dependable, down to earth worker, the other handsome, risk taker and adventurous but also a trouble maker. Their story jumps around in time, but mainly follows two strands, one f ...more
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I loved Crow Lake and just loved how it was written. Now I am a convert to Mary Lawson and I will read anything she puts out there. Hopefully she is somewhere right now working on a huge, fat book, because if I have any complaints it is that her books are so short! 300 pages of this one wasn't enough for me!

My favorite thing about this book was how it creeped up on the climax. The whole thing was written with such a calm, serene feel that when something does actually hap
Bonnie Brody
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I've read by Mary Lawson but it won't be my last. Her writing style is one of depth and profundity. Her characterizations run true to life and I felt like I was in Struan, Canada among the book's characters.

Like 'Crow Lake', this book takes place on a farm in rural northern Canada. The protagonists are the Dunn family, especially Arthur and Jake, two brothers who could not be more different. Jake is a dilettante, a man who is without empathy or conscience, living his life
Adriane Devries
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-clubbing
Have you ever wept to come to the end of a book? I did today, when I finished our book club selection, The Other Side of the Bridge, by Mary Lawson. It was absolutely the best book I have ever read -- at least that’s how I feel today. There were many times throughout that I thought that if I could write the perfect book, this would be it: with the themes of duty and the benevolent traps of love and friendship, of the conflict between disappointment and contentment, and (how could I help but noti ...more
Mar 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Lynne
In conclusion:

I liked this book for many reasons. It has humor. It covers widely varied topics, all of which I found interesting. Sibling rivalry. Parents’ attachments to their children…. and let’s admit it, we do not respond identically to each child. How do we / should we choose what we want to do with our lives? I mean what job we ultimately choose. Do we choose, or is it fate that decides for us? Are we destined for a certain occupation, given our particular personality? And what is the val
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
I loved this sequel to Crow Lake. Her chapters go back and forth between her two main characters who live in a small, rural community in Canada. Both of them are young men. One is the hulking, quiet, empathetic farmer's son who has a competitive, trouble-making brother. The other is the son of the town doctor who is trying to forget his mother who left for life in the big city. She uses a very effective storytelling technique, but I won't spoil it.

* FULL DISCLOSURE: Mary Lawson is one of my favo
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Other Side of the Bridge is a lovely little book. The story moves back and forth between the 1930s/40s when Arthur Dunn was growing up and the 1950s/60s when he was manning the family farm and the doctor's son Ian, was a part-time farmhand during high school.

There's rivalry, family connections, and love in this story. Mary Lawson's skill at portraying familial love in all it's interpretations is exquisite. She praises the unsung heroism of small town doctors in isolated communities. Lawson's
Mary Lins
I've read all three of Mary Lawson's wonderful novels in the past month. Now I'm in mourning because I'll have to wait for her to write her next one.

I love her writing, I love her characters - the "good" ones and the "bad" ones! I love the setting of remote, rural, northern Canada, I love the families that populate Mary Lawson's world.

If you haven't read a Mary Lawson novel, I'm ALMOST envious - because you are in for a treat.

CODA: It's now 2020 and we're in COVID lock-down so I'm re-reading Ma
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
Really enjoyed this somewhat subtle though well-written tale that is part coming-of-age and part mystery, and which manages a few southern-gothic-esque themes (relevant social issues/tragedy) that help to give it more volume and weight than it might have otherwise.

Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been sobbing for the past 15 minutes. What an absolutely beautiful book.
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a superb book. It is set in northern Canada in a small town. The book is split into 2 stories that occur about 10 -15 years apart so that at the end they coincide. The narrative focuses in each story on teenage boys - Arthur and Ian. Each has difficulty facing the future, dealing with women and how to decide what kind of men they want to be.

In Ian's story he is working for the adult Arthur on his farm - Ian's father is a doctor, his mother hates where they live and Ian uses the farm as a
Karen J.
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karen J. by: SJHS Teacher Book Club
"This is a book you will be driven to share with friends."

So says The Gazette in Montreal, and I'm echoing it here.

This was November's book selection for the book club I never seem to get to, and because I hadn't finished the book by the time the meeting rolled around, and I didn't want it spoiled for me, I didn't go this time either. Having just finished it a few minutes ago, I am definitely glad I waited.

I read this book essentially in three sittings. I started it during a silent reading class
Jul 18, 2010 rated it liked it
i keep going back and forth as to whether 3 stars is appropriate for this book - it wasn't a page-turner with incessant drama that kept me up reading late into the night; the pace was slower, with a meandering path that not only told the tale of the characters, but gave life to the fictional town of struan. this story encompasses so much: unstated sibling rivalry, the effects of one's hometown, interpersonal relationships, family dynamics, guilt, expectations, rebelliousness, all mixed in with a ...more
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Other Side of the Bridge is a spell binding and edifying experience. I wept when I finished it because it rings so true. It is a story about sibling rivalry, friendship and loyalty. It is also a coming of age story that spans two generations.

The writing is excellent. There is nothing there and doesn't belong or that distrubes the story telling in any way. There are no issues raised that aren't resolved. The characters are complete and multidemensional. What I like best about the writing is
H.A. Leuschel
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as with her book 'Crow Lake', I was instantly immersed into the two parallel story lines - one set in the past when Arthur and Jake are brothers growing up in Struan, Northern Ontario, two boys that couldn't be more different but nevertheless are tied by their family bond and outside expectations; the other set in the future where Arthur is a father and farmer, married to Laura, both seen through the eyes of their young farm help Ian, a boy who has to make his own difficult decisions and ha ...more
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters are developed so well you feel as though you know them personally. It is an interesting look into the psychology of families, and small towns. I felt for the challenges faced by both generations and the damage done to the town’s young men by the war. This is a well told story of the compromises we make as we go through life.
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult task the writer has set for herself. She tells a large part of this story from the viewpoint of the least interesting character, Arthur. Such is her gift that even though we are seeing the world through the dumbfounded eyes of the good son who remains on the farm, we still understand the pain and complexity of the emotional life swirling around him, even though it is almost completely lost on Arthur. I'm not quite sure how Lawson carries it off but I can say you will not be d ...more
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Couldn't put this one down and was hooked from the first chapter.

From back cover:

"The Other Side of the Bridge is an unforgettable story of jealousy, rivalry and the power of obsession played out over the course of a half century. Two brothers, the sons of a farmer living in the fictional Northern Ontario community of Struan and whose lives are overshadowed by the looming threat of World War II, are polar opposites. Arthur is shy, dependable and dutiful, set to inherit the family farm, while Jak
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Small town, Northern Canada...I could relate to everything in this book except the actual Second World War, which was a bit before my time. Still, all wars seem to have the same tragic consequences. Mary Lawson did an excellent job with all the story lines and character development. I could see and smell everything as if I was there.
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
Not an awful lot happened but a good little book. Great writing. I’d like to read more by this author.
Anne Ross
I recently read Crow Lake and thought it was flawless. In this one, I found the plot cloying and predictable. And the character of Jake was one dimensional. I was disappointed.
I didn't exactly choose to read this book - Mary Lawson's acclaimed follow-up to her first novel, Crow Lake. It would be more accurate to say I was sort of cornered into it. An English instructor at the small university where I work as a librarian asked me to give a research instruction workshop on literary databases for her students who had been assigned to write an analytical essay about the book. She (the instructor) had picked Lawson's book for the class because, as she put it, “it's a bit m ...more
I'm conflicted on this book. I like Lawson, the portrayal of Struan, and of its people. I also liked the story of Ian, the child of a country doctor, destined to be one himself, but fighting against it tooth and nail. I did not like the older story, that of the sibling rivalry between Arthur and Jake, because I didn't much get a feel for the two men. The silent one is silent and plodding but somehow in the right, and the smarmy one is charming and utterly without morals. It can't be that simple? ...more
Jan 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved a Crow Lake so I was really excited to read this book. It was good, I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much.

"When he was younger, Ian had assumed that as you got older things became clear. Adults had seemed so sure, so knowledgeable, not just about facts and figures but about the big questions: the difference between right and wrong; what was true and what wasn’t; what life was about. He’d assumed that you went to school because you had to learn things, starting off with the easy stuff and
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"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
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Mary Lawson (born 1946) is a Canadian novelist.

Born in southwestern Ontario, she spent her childhood in Blackwell, Ontario (located between Sarnia and Brights Grove) and is a distant relative of L. M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables.

Lawson moved to England after graduating from McGill University with a psychology degree in 1968. She also married in Ontario, has two grown up sons and now

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