One Lane Bridge: A Novel, by Don Reid (2010)
J. D. is a busy middle-aged man who suddenly finds himself facing both family and business problems – nothing too out of the ordinary, but a lot to cope with all at once. He and his wife run two restaurants, and when cash begins to disappear from one of them, he and his wife disagree about how to deal with the problem. At the same time their daughter comes home unexpectedly, wanting to drop out of college; and on top of that he is worrying about his mother who has recently moved into a nursing home.
One evening, to clear his mind, J. D. goes for a drive on his own in the countryside. He drives over an old one lane bridge, and then the car breaks down. He walks up to an old farmhouse to ask for water for the radiator; and finds a poor family with problems worse than his own.
Their situation continues to bother him, and he decides to go back and offer them some help. But when he does, accompanied by his wife, he can't find the place. The old one lane bridge is simply no longer there – instead there is a modern two lane bridge. J.D. is quite sure that he has not lost his way and that it is the right place – it’s just not the right time!
While J. D. struggles to find his way back to help the strangers in the past, his behaviour creates a further strain on the relationship with his wife; and even his best friend thinks he's crazy.
I found myself liking this book. It’s different, in that it manages to combine very realistic everyday events and relationships with things completely out of the ordinary (time-travel). I particularly admire the author’s ability to let both worlds (or times) remain important, not only to J.D. but also to me as reader.
If I had to compare this book to another one, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger comes closest in my mind – but not too close!
If you like every loose end neatly tied up at the end, this book may disappoint a little in that respect. Personally, however, I found that to contribute to the illusion of realism.
One of the points I think the author is trying to make in this story is that we’re all connected both with the past and the future – also in ways that go beyond the bonds of immediate family.
(This ebook was temporarily free when I got it; it is no longer free, but not very expensive either. It’s one of the better contemporary ones that I’ve found for free so far.)