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Road Ends

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,993 Ratings  ·  535 Reviews
He listened as their voices faded into the rumble of the falls. He was thinking about the lynx. The way it had looked at him, acknowledging his existence, then passing out of his life like smoke. . . It was the first thing—the only thing—that had managed, if only for a moment, to displace from his mind the image of the child. He had carried that image with him for a year n ...more
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by Knopf Canada
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Deborah In the fictional town of Struan in Northern Ontario. The author places the town north of North Bay, near New Liskeard and Colbalt.

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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Canadian Lit. & literary fiction.
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Marj Madden
4 stars Lawson’s one of my favorites, she nails the typical Canadian novel – unsentimental, bit bleak, full of soul searching dysfunctional people coping as best they can, a rural setting taking centre stage. Her third novel and they’re all pretty great, a Lawson quote "I am in love with that landscape" - it shows...
"Everything monochrome, shades of white and grey. Snake fences tacking their way down the edges of the fields, every rung neatly capped with snow. Dark, snow-laden trees beyond
Angela M
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read this book.
I wanted to read this book because Crow Lake was one of those books where the author takes you so completely to the place where the story lies and lets you climb inside the heads of her characters. I was not disappointed in Mary Lawson's latest novel.

In a small town in Canada we find a family in trouble. These sad, broken people are seriously falli
Diane S ☔
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
For the first part of this book, I found myself shaking my head, trying to direct character's actions ands begging some of them to please open their eyes. Then I realized Lawson had hooked me again, made the characters so realistic that I felt like I knew them and could offer them advice. Families, large families, all families at times so incredibly complicated.

My impatience lessened somewhat, in the second half, as we are taken further into their backstories. My sympathy remained with little Ad
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The setting is the tiny fictional town of Straun, Ontario. It is the dead of winter, and there is something amiss in the Cartwright household. Although Mother and Father and grown son are on the premises, there is not a responsible adult between the three of them. After years of efficiently managing the home and mothering her seven brothers, big sister Megan has finally left and moved to London to start her own life. Things fall to pieces in her absence.

'Some of the most important decisions in
Natalie Richards
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-book
3.5 stars. I so wanted to love this book but somehow it just didn`t touch me like her previous 2 books. It was all there, but I just felt like I was on the fringes of the story and didn`t really feel a connection to the characters. I still love Mary Lawson`s writing and will definitely continue to read whatever else she writes, but for me this was a disappointment. ...more
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
***3.5 Stars*** This very enjoyable story is narrated by 3 different members of the Cartwright family…all beautifully drawn but flawed characters. Edward, the father of 8 children, is a remote and reluctantly married figure constantly isolated in his study in order to disassociate from his family. Tom, the eldest son, abandoned his dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer after the suicide death of his best friend and he now runs the town’s snowplow. And finally there’s Meg, the only daughter ...more
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Road Ends by Mary Larson is set in Struan a fictional town in the North of Canada and revels the story of the intricacies and anguish of family life and how we face tragedy and the pull of responsibilities of family life.

I liked this novel but couldn't help wishing that I had read the author's first novel called Crow Lake and while Road Ends is a standalone novel there was references in the story that probably made more sense if you had read the first novel by this author. I have been told that
Aug 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Megan Cartwright leaves her parents and numerous brothers (I lost count) to find a new life in England. Her new life isn't at all what she expected, at least not until opportunity knocks. Her family is not the same without her amazing organizational skills, and they soon realize that the mother of the clan basically just wants to have and care for babies. Mother is steadily slipping away--absolutely gaga over babies and clueless about everything else. The oldest, Tom, has already slipped off men ...more
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-library
Mary Lawson’s third novel focuses on the Cartwright family: parents and eight children. It is narrated from three perspectives: Edward, the father; Tom, the eldest son; and Megan, the only daughter. Edward, the town’s bank manager, hides in his study reading about cities he dreams of visiting and ignoring the family that is disintegrating around him. Tom, in the depths of a guilt-ridden depression because of the death of a friend, has abandoned his career as an aeronautical engineer and seeks on ...more
Bonnie Brody
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing novel. I don't know how Mary Lawson's work passed me by. Her writing is so textured, her characters so developed, and the plot so poignant. I read this book in one day, staying up half the night to finish it. It is that good.

The novel is written in three voices: Megan, Tom, and Edward. Megan is the only daughter in a family of eight sons who live in northern Ontario in a small town called Struan. Megan's mother is barely functional and she lives solely to have more children. S
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

So goes the opening line of Anna Karenina. But it could as easily apply to the Cartwright family – seven living sons and one daughter in the fictional town of Struan, near Crow Lake, in the backwoods of northern Ontario at the end of the 1960s.

The narrative shifts between three family members – patriarch Edward (written in the first person), who is curiously absent from his family life; Tom, the eldest son and drifter,
Betsy Robinson
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a story about a whole family of people at the end of their roads—afraid of their own thoughts, mired in dysfunction, unable to communicate with each other or anybody else. Yet there's unexpected humor (imagine a Canadian Long Day's Journey into Night with laughs!). Lawson's creation of place—a fictional town in snow-blanketed Northern Ontario, Canada, and London, England, in the 1960s—is stunning and visceral. Chapters alternate between first person and third; the father of the family sp ...more
Rebecca Foster
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Nearly 4.5) Contrasting rural Canada and London in the 1960s, Lawson’s third novel is a powerful story about how people deal with a way of life ending. She creates a perfect balance between her two plot strands, and the evocation of both locations is flawless, perhaps because they have autobiographical worth for her – she grew up on a farm in Ontario but moved to England in 1968. One remarkable thing about the novel is how she traces every decision back to a traumatic event in a character’s pas ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I remembered reading Lawson's Crow Lake, and remembered it fondly, though the story itself and any of its details had long gone the way of things tucked into dark corners of my brain. As I read this, however, it became apparent that this was set in the same region of "The North" and that perhaps, just perhaps, there were some of the same characters. Now that I've finished this one, I looked back at the description of that one and, sure enough, Lawson has drawn from the same well. This one takes ...more
Mary Billinghurst
Nov 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Maybe I expected too much, having so enjoyed the first two Mary Lawson books immensely, but Road Ends did not work consistently for me. The problem lies in the characters: most of the family members whose lives are the focus of this novel are highly dysfunctional, so much so that they seem like caricatures. The one "normal" person in the group, the daughter, Megan, is incredibly naive. Such extreme people make it difficult for the reader to relate to or believe them.

Some portions of the novel tr
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gift from Mary Lawson, tied with a ribbon that threads together both Crow Lake andThe Other Side of the Bridge. What a pleasure this was to read!
May 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
I want to give this book more stars, because the author is clearly talented and I would like to read more of her work before judging her completely. However, this particular book enraged me.


I spent a very large part of the time it took to read this book angry at the lack of depth given to the female characters, and the fact that their very purpose in the storylines seems solely to add drama and fill the empty bits of the male characters' POV chapters.

I find it odd that the autho
Petra Willemse
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A well told look at one family's story of life in the early '60s in small town Canada. The trials and tribulations are not unusual or of great magnitude, but they struck a chord with me that is still echoing. Nicely written.
JoAnne Pulcino
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Mary Lawson

Ms. Lawson became a literary hero for me after reading her first novel, CROW LAKE. (I can’t tell you how many times I have recommended the book) Her magnificent writing and her depth of compassion for the complex and achingly real character is true genius in literature.

The novel takes place in a small town in Canada near Crow Lake with a cold desolate landscape that adds to the bleakness of the story, and the depression depicted in some of the characters. This is a family dee
Julie Brown
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, first-reads
I received Road Ends as a First Reads giveaway.

Having read Mary Lawson's other books, I was excited to delve into her newest one.
The writing is so clearly descriptive that it is easy to see in your mind, the fictitious village of Struan as well London England.

The story is told in three voices; Edward, And Tom and Megan, two of Edward's children.

Although the three voices are obviously intertwined, Megan's story could stand on it's own, and was the voice I most wanted to hear.
Initially I despi
Feb 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Mary Lawson seems to have lost her magic touch in this her third novel set in Struan, Northern Ontario. Family life is once again played out against the bleak landscape of this remote region, where the characters struggle with disappointments, suppressed longings and wasted lives. I wanted so much to love this book as I loved her previous novels, the wonderful Crow Lake and The Other Side of the Bridge and was looking forward to meeting up again with some of the characters that so memorably popu ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After reading Crow Lake, I could not wait to immerse myself in the lives of her characters again, and Road Ends did not disappoint. Mary has a knack for walking in the grey areas of life's realities with grace and simplicity. She shows the pain of responsibility, the inescapable harshness of love and the sorrow of disappointment in a beautiful way. I love how she writes about small town life, too. Brilliant writing, a real treat for those cozy nights when it's just you and her words.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Not quite 5 stars, but mighty close. I blew through this baby in less than 12 hours.

Review to come...
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 4-stars
Review also found at

I received this ARC as part of a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

This was an interesting read for me and I fear I will not do the book justice in my review. This book at it's core is about family, tragedy, inner ghosts and how things can fall apart when you are not looking. The story is centralized around the Cartwright family and told from the perspective of Edward the father, Tom the son and Megan the daughter.

Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Haven't filed a book on my "Most Memorable Reads" shelf in awhile but this one definitely deserved to be there so file it I did.

Mary Lawson is a brilliant author. First Crow Lake- fabulous, then The Other Side of the Bridge-amazing and now Road Ends- the best of the three. This book, like her others, brings with it such a powerful sense of time and place and psyche of the main characters that you feel you've grown up in and lived in northern Ontario your whole life and know these characters lik
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Dysfunctional large family in Northern Ontario with only 1 daughter who holds energy, ambition, and fortitude. And she has a plan. That's the basics of the book. Her plan, how it plays out, and if she eventually chooses obligation or inclination. There are sections in her father's and her oldest brother Tom's voices in between her own. It also skips time frames and reverts to earlier months on occasion. That did not bother me, and that particular method worked for nuance and reaction awareness, ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is told from the perspective of the three main characters. Meg-who finally leaves home to pursue a life of her own after taking care of her broken family, Tom- the oldest brother who is suffering from guilt and depression, and Edward- the father who is unable to take charge of his family and shuts himself away in his office with his books and hopes of traveling. It is the story of a household falling apart with each member going their separate way while living under the same roof.

I h
Lynne Brookfield
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
I am so fond of Mary Lawson's writing (CROW LAKE, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BRIDGE) that I ordered ROAD ENDS from a bookstore in Canada. The book will not be published in the U.S. until the Spring of 2014.

The settings are Northern Ontario and London during the 1960's, although there are important historical veins to the mining times in Ontario in the early 1900's. The characters and their development make for a fascinating read. How do we let go of a crippling childhood? When do we know where "home"
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is always a pleasure to start reading a book by Mary Lawson. She takes you to small town Ontario, Canada and her focus is always on the people. In this book there are 3 main characters: Edward, the Dad, who feels trapped in his current life and is searching for answers in his past; Tom, the eldest son, who had a brilliant career ahead of him and also the chance of escape from small town Struan, until a tragedy struck; Megan, the eldest daughter, who after being the surrogate mother for so man ...more
Katie Bliss
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Good novel, good character development and story telling. The father and brothers drove me crazy because I'm a mom and I don't know how you can turn such a blind eye to a house that's digesting and dirty and a 4-year-old who is being neglected...that made me nuts, but I think it was supposed to, and was indicative of the serious issues each character had, and how self-absorbed they were. I enjoyed Megan's character (of course). I look forward to reading this writer's other books, and love that t ...more
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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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“They all lived in their own little clouds.” 1 likes
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