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Lawson, Mary 1946-

Lawson, Mary 1946-

PERSONAL:

Born 1946, in Blackwell, Ontario, Canada; married; husband's name Richard; children: sons. Education: McGill University, B.S., 1968.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Surrey, England.

CAREER:

Writer and novelist. Worked as a behavioral scientist in a steel industry research lab, London, England.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Amazon Canada First Novel Award, Society of Authors Award, and Today Book Club pick, all for Crow Lake; nominated for the Man Booker Prize, 2006, for The Other Side of the Bridge.

WRITINGS:

Crow Lake (novel), A.A. Knopf Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

The Other Side of the Bridge (novel), Dial Press (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mary Lawson's debut novel, Crow Lake, began as a short story she wrote in the 1980s. Crow Lake is set in a small, quiet community of the same name in Northern Ontario, where Lawson spent the summers in her childhood. Kate Morrison's parents were killed when a logging truck hit their car. Desperate to keep their family together, her older brother Luke, then just nineteen, gave up his college education to raise his three younger siblings, which included seventeen-year-old Matt; Kate, then seven; and baby Bo. Luke wants Matt, the smartest one, to be the first of the siblings to go to college, but fate intervenes. Kate ends up being the first and earns a degree in zoology. Years later Kate works as a professor far away from Crow Lake. She feels guilty about her success and the opportunities her brothers missed out on because of her. When invited back for her nephew's birthday party, Kate starts to think back to her childhood and realizes there is something she must confront back at Crow Lake. Book Browser Web site contributor Maureen O'Connor noted: "Storytelling involves so much: characters, setting, plot, language, structure. And Mary Lawson has excelled in all of these." January Magazine contributor Margaret Gunning concluded: "Let us rejoice in the discovery of this subtle, graceful, late-blooming talent."

With her second novel, The Other Side of the Bridge Lawson "again maps out the austere hinterlands of northern Canada with the exactness of a cartographer and the watchfulness of a landscape painter," observed Trevor Lewis in the London Sunday Times. The story is based in the rough-hewn town of Struan and centers around a protracted love triangle involving two brothers and the woman who loves them both, with additional complications added by an outsider. One of the brothers is Arthur Dunn, a solid, dependable, affable, and earthy sort who concentrates on his duties on the farm. Arthur's brother, Jake, is more worldly, at times sneaky and insidious, handsome and prone to a wilder life. Throughout their lives, the brothers had been at odds with each other, with Arthur assuming a more responsible and hardworking role while Jake was more glib and carefree. A rare event in their childhood, when Arthur almost offhandedly wished harm on his brother, has haunted him for his entire life. Important to both of their lives is Laura, a woman who fell in love with each of the brothers, and whose presence had profound effects on both Arthur and Jake. While the brothers struggle through their individual and interpersonal conflicts in their adolescence and young adult years, World War II rages overseas. Twenty years later, Arthur is married to the beautiful Laura and has taken over the family farm. Jake, after a long absence, has returned to Struan. The brothers' rivalry reignites almost immediately, and is complicated by the presence of Ian, the teenage son of the local doctor who has come to work on the farm in order to be near Laura, the object of his infatuation. Lawson "ingeniously uses this narrative structure to create immense tension by gradually disclosing the past Ian walks into" and the unresolved issues between Jake and Arthur that have been reawakened by his affection for Laura, observed Library Journal reviewer David Doerrer.

Critics reacted favorably to Lawson's efforts in The Other Side of the Bridge. Entertainment Weekly reviewer Tina Jordan called Lawson "a sure and capable writer." A Publishers Weekly critic concluded that "Lawson's evocative writing untangles her characters' confused impulses toward city and country, love and hate, good and evil." Manchester Guardian reviewer Penelope Lively stated that "Lawson writes with admirable economy, but still manages to pack in a wealth of atmosphere and detail without in any way impeding the flow of the story," and concluded: "This is a fine book—an enthralling read, both straightforward and wonderfully intricate."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Beverley Guardian, October 16, 2006, review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

Booklist, January 1, 2002, Danise Hoover, review of Crow Lake, p. 811; October 15, 2006, Carol Haggas, review of The Other Side of the Bridge, p. 29.

Chatelaine, April, 2002, "Ripple Effect," p. 28.

Entertainment Weekly, October 27, 2006, Tina Jordan, review of The Other Side of the Bridge, p. 75.

Guardian (Manchester, England), October 7, 2006, "The Triumph of Humanity," Penelope Lively, review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

Independent (London, England), October 1, 2006, Louise Doughty, review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of Crow Lake, p. 1706; October 1, 2006, review of The Other Side of the Bridge, p. 980.

Library Journal, February 15, 2002, Beth E. Anderson, review of Crow Lake, p. 178; October 15, 2006, David Doerrer, review of The Other Side of the Bridge, p. 51.

Maclean's, July 1, 2002, Brian Bethune, "Unforgotten Country: New Canadian Fiction Still Draws from a Past Quickly Fading into Myth," p. 84.

New York Times Book Review, March 31, 2002, Janet Burroway, "The Girl She Left Behind."

Publishers Weekly, September 18, 2006, review of The Other Side of the Bridge, p. 35.

Spectator, April 6, 2002, Nicolette Jones, "A Child's Book of True Crime," p. 35.

Sunday Times (London, England), September 24, 2006, Trevor Lewis, "Bitter Harvests," review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

Telegraph (London, England), September 17, 2006, Jane Shilling, "Placid Places Don't Make for Placid Lives," review of The Other Side of the Bridge; October 8, 2006, Ruth Scurr, "Quiet Fury in the Fastness," review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

ONLINE

AZCentral.com,http://www.azcentral.com/ (September 29, 2006), Anne Stephenson, review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

Book Browser,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (May 7, 2007), Maureen O'Connor, review of Crow Lake.

Book Page,http://www.bookpage.com/ (May 7, 2007), Amy Scribner, "Canadian Writer Spins a Lyrical Debut."

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (May 7, 2007), Kathy Weissman, review of Crow Lake.

Curled up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (May 7, 2007), Luan Gaines, review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

EW.com,http://www.ew.com/ (October 20, 2006), Tina Jordan, review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (May 7, 2007), Margaret Gunning, "In Praise of Late Bloomers."

Morning News,http://www.themorningnews.org/ (September 11, 2006), review of The Other Side of the Bridge.

Random House of Canada Web site,http://www.randomhouse.ca/ (May 7, 2007), biography of Mary Lawson.

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