Sunday, 3 January 2010

Crossing the bridge: Review

Crossing the bridge
By Michael Baron
Published by The Story Plant
Published in January 2010

I received this review copy from the publisher. I was not paid for this review.

Satisfaction. That warm, contented feeling you get after a good cup of hot tea, the first sip of a well-made latte, or waking up at 7.30 in the morning and realising it's Saturday. This is the feeling I got after reading this novel by Michael Baron. It was immensely satisfying. Normally, I'm wary of novels described as "romantic" (and I'm just plain scared of the "romance" genre which is really code for "books about people shagging") but I was happily surprised. Although at the very heart of it this is a love story, it's also a whole lot more than that.

Hugh is in his early thirties and is by all accounts a lost soul - he's had a variety of short-lived jobs and left a string of broken hearts across America. The reason behind his lack of direction is the untimely death of his younger brother Chase in a car crash 10 years prior. He has just quit yet another job when his father suffers a heart attack and Hugh decides to come back to Amber, his hometown, to help out. However his visit ends up being longer than he had previously anticipated and sees him taking on more responsibilities than he is comfortable with including helping to run his father's beloved stationery store. He feels trapped and suffocated. There is a ray of light, however, when during his stay, Hugh sees Iris, the woman whom his brother was dating when he died - and whom Hugh has been secretly in love all along and things begin to develop.

The character of Hugh is well developed throughout the course of the novel. To begin with I have to admit he grated on me a little with his whining about having to stay in Amber and help out at his father's stationery store for a few weeks and how this was holding up his life, but with time and some other influences he starts to see that the people and places right under his nose are what counts rather than running off to the next town in search of goodness knows what. The character of Chase and what really happened in the months prior to his death adds an element of intrigue and helps keep the reader hooked.

Although romantic novels are usually fairly predictable (boy eventually gets girl, happy ever after ensues) this novel wasn't. I wasn't entirely sure what was going to happen until the very end which I appreciated. The novel is more complex than your regular romantic novel and was well written. Plus it was set in Connecticut, a short drive away from where Stars Hollow (home town of the Gilmore Girls) would have been if it were real who can resist that? All in all, this is a good read that will keep you occupied on a cold winter's night and leaving you with a sense of satisfaction after you've finished it.

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