Week Two in our Books of Summer series brings us to a truly special book and a woman who I have grown to love so much I consider her a sister. Some friends become more than friends, they become family, and Marybeth has been that kind of friend to me. Marybeth understands Story in a way that few people do and her fifth novel, THE BRIDGE TENDER, is by far her best yet. We have a copy up for grabs today, along with the other four novels in our series. (See the entry form below for details). And you can still enter the giveaway for week one here.
The Bridge in The Bridge Tender
Call me slow on the draw but the bridge symbolism in my new book wasn’t immediately apparent to me when I began writing. I conceived of the book idea just like I had conceived of several of my other novel ideas– on a visit to Sunset Beach, NC. The place itself evokes a feeling of escape, traveling back to a simpler time, and all the things a beach vacation should be. But on this visit the quaint and unpredictable pontoon bridge that had originally connected the island to the mainland was being replaced by a sleek, hulking, dependable structure arcing across the sky. The citizens and regular visitors of Sunset Beach were divided over the bridge’s demise, and it was this debate– and the passionate feelings associated with the bridge– that spurred me to write a novel about it.
It was only after I started crafting the story that I realized what I was doing. As I told the story about a young widow who must journey to Sunset Beach to fulfill her husband’s last wish for her and gets drawn into the community’s debate about the fate of the bridge, I was also telling a story about the bridges in our lives. Bridges, I came to understand, are the things that take us from where we’ve been to where we’re going. They connect us from our past to our present. They serve us well, if we let them. Yet sometimes we are resistant to crossing those bridges. We want to stay safely on the familiar side. We are afraid of the journey across, of what waits for us.
Sometimes we just need other people to make the journey with us. Sometimes we need assurance that there are going to be friendly faces there to greet us on the other side. Sometimes we need time to prepare to cross, and we need the people in our lives to let us take that time. My main character, Emily, needed all of this as she journeyed out of grief and into hope one halting step at a time.
I gave Emily what she needed, what we all need. I gave her new friends and old ones, someone who needed her, someone who she might need, people who made her laugh, who drew her back into fun and laughter and living again, people who also let her cry and play the same sad song over and over. I let her linger in safety, but I also pushed her towards the unknown. And in the end, I let her learn to trust that the bridge would take her where she needed to go.
Every book teaches me something about life. This one taught me about bridges, and getting where we need to go. And that, no matter what our journey looks like, there are always ways to get safely across.
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On their honeymoon, the new Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Shaw made a pact: No matter the sacrifices along the way, one day they would return to Sunset Beach, North Carolina—this time to buy their own home.
But that dream was not to be. Seven years into a beautiful marriage, Emily is left a widow, heartbroken, and way past caring about anything.
Until a man approaches her, claiming to have something left to her from Ryan. Something secret.
Unsure if she can ever embrace a new life without her husband, but even less sure about continuing to stay where she is, Emily heads to the coast to keep her end of the promise she once made.
Without delay, she becomes immersed in the lives of the locals, including the reclusive bridge tender with an unexpected past. As the community debates over building a new bridge, Emily must decide whether she will build a bridge of her own, one that will take her out of a painful past and into the new life—and new love—that her lost love made possible.