Mary Lawson’s beloved novels, Crow Lake and The Other Side of the Bridge, have delighted legions of readers around the world. The fictional, northern Ontario town of Struan, buried in the winter snows, is the vivid backdrop to her breathtaking new novel.
Roads End brings us a family unravelling in the aftermath of tragedy: Edward Cartwright, struggling to escape the legacy of a violent past; Emily, his wife, cloistered in her room with yet another new baby, increasingly unaware of events outside the bedroom door; Tom, their eldest son, twenty-five years old but home again, unable to come to terms with the death of a friend; and capable, formidable Megan, the sole daughter in a household of eight sons, who for years held the family together but has finally broken free and gone to England, to try to make a life of her own.
Roads End is Mary Lawson at her best. In this masterful, enthralling, tender novel, which ranges from the Ontario silver rush of the early 1900s to swinging London in the 1960s, she gently reveals the intricacies and anguish of family life, the push and pull of responsibility and individual desire, the way we can face tragedy, and in time, hope to start again.
Hardcover, 336 pagesExpected publication: November 12th 2013 by Knopf Canada
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.
His storyline is centered around his fears that he will turn out just like his father who was heartless and abusive. I found this story interesting because in his struggle to not follow in his father's footsteps he in turn neglected and ignored his family. His inability to address his family issues or even speak with his children or wife contributed greatly to the families dysfunction. For the most part I found no redeeming qualities in his character and did not warm to him throughout the story. I do however think that this was necessary to the rest of the plot.
Tom was my favorite character in this read. Following a tragedy with his best friend Tom had withdrawn in to himself and would not allow himself in any situation, including employment, that required any social interaction. The growth of his character in my opinion was the greatest out of everyone in the story. As he tried to remain in his self created "prison" you could see him slowly coming back to the real world in spite of his wishes. His interactions with his little brother Adam were heartwarming as Adam slowly and by necessity brought him back.
Megan was the strong one in the family who was the only one capable of keeping the family "upright". It was interesting to see the downfall of her family after she left for England to try to make her own way. Although strong willed and opinionated she was also likeable and you wanted to see how her journey would play out.
On top of these stories you also had the backdrop of small town Northern Ontario in the winter to add to the drama of the writing. I finished this book today while looking at our first snowfall of the season thinking how appropriate it was to be reading it at this very moment.
I really enjoyed this book however I will warn folks that while this was not a difficult read it was is not a light feel good read. Those who only want happy cheery reads would not appreciate this book. Those who appreciate reading about characters who struggle with their inner ghost's and finding themselves would love this book. I was not previously familiar with Mary Lawson and I am pleased to discover a talented Canadian writer. I will be checking her other works.
About the Author
Mary Lawson (born 1946) is a Canadian novelist.
Born in southwestern Ontario, she spent her childhood in Blackwell, Ontario 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 England, has two grown up sons and now lives in Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey. Her two novels to date, both published by Knopf Canada were set in Northern Ontario.