The One-Way Bridge
THE ONE-WAY BRIDGE is Cathie Pellletier’s first novel in six years. Fans have been eagerly waiting for this new addition to the literary mélange of summer books. The One-Way Bridge is in Mattagash, Maine, and is the only way into and out of town. Over the years, an informal rule evolved that the one on the bridge or the one arriving at the bridge has the right of way.
Mattagash is an insular town at the northernmost piece of land in Maine. It is populated by the usual eccentrics and has its share of ridiculous feuds. Five residents of this town emerge as main characters, and readers will have a good time ferreting them out. The storyline is not linear; it is told by an omniscient narrator who is entirely believable despite the fact that s/he jumps around in telling all of the events that take place in Mattagash.
"Pelletier has a perfect pitch for dialogue, and readers might think she carved out the words and people with a scalpel. Fans and newcomers will find THE ONE-WAY BRIDGE a delight."
As the book opens, Billy Thunder is next to his mailbox. He is waiting for a small package sent to him from his cronies downstate. He confronts the mailman, Orville Craft, who is not delivering the mail as fast as Billy thinks he should. They have a small argument over this, which ends quickly.The box Billy is waiting for is full of phony Viagra tablets. The women in town are his biggest customers.
As the narrative unfolds, readers are led into the town’s secrets, lies and suspicions. It seems that everyone talks to everyone else, but hidden agendas are woven through every relationship. For example: Billy “knew ears grew on trees in Mattagash, and even moles have twenty-twenty vision.” He and others are very aware of who they talk to and where. They are even conscious of who they are seen with. They are suspicious of strangers and newcomers.
The men are not afraid of being seen by their friends flirting with waitresses and other women who are divorced or widows. They like to see a bit of cleavage that does not belong to their wives. All in good fun, this usually takes place in “Blanche’s Café.”
Another important event in the life of Orville Craft is that we meet him during his last week as a mailman. He resigned his post and is not sure that he should have done it so early in his life. He had years ahead of him that he could have provided mail service to the townfolk. But his philosophy is “what is done is done and he will live with the consequences.” He drives up to Harry Plunkett’s mailbox, which is a moose, and finds that Harry has turned his silly moose around. Orville is very insulted by this because, in order to put the mail in the box, he has to open the back side. This becomes a bone of contention between the two men. These are the kinds of hijinks that take place throughout the book.
Cathie Pelletier has written a novel with a particular perspective on small towns and those who populate them. Her piercing acumen getting into her characters’ lives is a reflection of her talent as a writer who knows her material. She has a perfect pitch for dialogue, and readers might think she carved out the words and people with a scalpel. Fans and newcomers will find THE ONE-WAY BRIDGE a delight.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on May 10, 2013
The One-Way Bridge
- Publication Date: May 7, 2013
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
- ISBN-10: 1402280734
- ISBN-13: 9781402280733