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Friday, January 10, 2014

The Other Side of the Bridge by Katharine Swartz



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. 

The Other Side of the Bridge has two narratives: Ava’s in the present as she struggles separation from her husband and Sophia–Ava’s grandmother–while she works with the resistance against the Nazis in World War II. Ava’s is the primary story line, and the connection between two is the struggle both women face on their journey to find their love. I really enjoyed the very descriptive details regarding the Greek history regarding WWII was and what the village looked like.

I was extremely delighted by the quality of the writing of Katharine Swartz. She delivered the complete package, a well-crafted plot, with proficiently developed characters, and the use of a writing style that is clean and crisp.The fact that I read this novel in one sitting, really speaks to how much I liked it and the kind of grip that the story gets on the reader. 

This book was a fast read and I was immediately enchanted by the depth of each character. This truly was a book that portrayed honor as a very high virtue even among so much emotion. I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book and I hope to read more from this author.