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Review: The Other Side of The Bridge by Katharine Swartz

The Other Side of The Bridge
Katharine Swartz
Kate Hewitt Limited November 4, 2013
Pages 300
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review
  • Recommendation: 3/5
  • Reviewer: Melinda

From Goodreads:
Ava Lancet has lost her job, her marriage, and her baby when she discovers she has inherited her grandmother’s dilapidated farmhouse in a tiny village in central Greece. With the kind of emotional impulsiveness that has frustrated her stony-faced husband for years, she decides to move there and recover from life’s sorrows.

It only takes a few minutes in her new home to realize just what a dump it is, and how ridiculously rash her decision was. Yet Ava perseveres, and thanks to her grandmother’s legacy, is welcomed into the village… as well as by handsome widower Andreas Lethikos.

When an elderly woman in the village mistakes Ava for her grandmother, telling her, with tears trickling down her face, that she is so sorry, Ava is both touched and intrigued. What is the woman sorry for, and what secrets did her grandmother keep? With the help of a local schoolteacher who is interviewing the remaining Second World War survivors in central Greece, Ava discovers the surprising threads of her grandmother’s life… and they help to weave her own life back together.

In 1942, in Italian and Nazi-occupied Greece, Ava’s grandmother Sophia Paranoussis is fighting to keep her family, and especially her impulsive sister Angelika, safe. When she is approached by a stranger to help with the local Resistance, she longs to refuse, yet a sense of both duty and honor compel her to agree. Frightened and yet with growing courage, Sophia begins to aid twelve British SOEs who have parachuted into Greece to blow up the Gorgopotamos viaduct–and falls in impossible love with one of them.

Spanning three generations and exploring the lives of two very different and yet surprisingly similar women, The Other Side of The Bridge will remind you how a fragile hope can spring from both tragedy and despair.

A good book with the potential to be great missed the mark. As a reader I am tiring of the split narrative of past and present, done so often the originality is gone. Swartz created an interesting plot with semi-predictability, saved by a surprise twist.

The main protagonist Ava is suffering from tremendous sorrow and grief. Dealing with so much, plus her marriage in trouble, Ava is stoic, unemotional and detached. With Ava there was boundless potential to draw the reader in emotionally, rather the opposite occurred driving the reader away. Ava focused too much on the why and not enough on the how. She came across as immature and too self-pitying. I realize she is suffering but she seemed whiney and indecisive, not exactly a pillar of strength.

Simon her husband has difficulty expressing his emotions (surprise!) and these two have zero communication. The terrible tragedy caused them to withdrawal separately losing their way back to each other. He seems to be misunderstood and at odds on how to recover from his loss as well as how to help his wife. Initially Ava paints him as a first class jerk but she comes to her senses and realizes she isn’t exactly seeing what’s in front of her.

I found the narrative of the past and Sophia’s character far more interesting and intriguing. The WWII aspect was great, could have been a standalone story. The two blended well together even though I am over combining past/present.

Good story but bland and repetitive as a whole. More women’s fiction than romance, although a stronger romance element appears towards the later part.

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