Peter "Bridge" Bridgford lives on an island off the coast of Maine with his wife, their two daughters, and a dog named Twilight.
He is the author of Hauling Through, But I Digress, Where Eagles Dare Not Perch, and Sweating Through.
“A remarkable Civil War tale about Northern characters fighting for their own freedom as they seek revenge.”
– Kirkus Reviews
In this novel, a young man’s grave mistake forces him into a dangerous adventure that heals him in unexpected ways.
Noah—a recovering addict living in Buffalo, New York—has finally gotten the hang of sober living. He is gainfully employed, complying with probation requirements and exercising regularly with his faithful dog, Kimo. But just as he settles into this routine, his Uncle Bob—an imposing, ex-military caregiver figure who took over after Noah’s parents died in a car crash when he was 14 years old—requests a meeting. Bob confronts Noah for unwittingly impregnating a local Mafia family member, Lizzie Guerro. Bob insists that Noah’s only option—outside of being brutally exterminated by the Guerro family—is to “do the right thing” and marry Lizzie. Noah, devastated by the prospect of ruining his life, relapses and—while massively drunk—does something gravely impulsive that deepens his conflict with the notoriously violent Guerro family. With this, the option of marrying Lizzie becomes obliterated and Noah decides to skip town by canoe (the only way he believes he can leave surreptitiously) and keep paddling until he finds somewhere he can safely begin anew. Along the way, Noah meets 17-year-old Becca, a pregnant young woman on the run from an equally serious set of troubles. From here, the two become unlikely fugitive travel companions who encounter terrors and delights along a river odyssey that changes their lives in surprising ways. Bridgford (Where Eagles Dare Not Perch, 2018, etc.) demonstrates skillfulness when it comes to rendering suspense and twisting a scintillating plot. He also supports his creative storyline with appreciable outdoorsman knowledge, which vivifies the prose nicely throughout. That said, the canoe journey takes up the majority of the book and, after the first few chapters, begins to read as somewhat droning and repetitive. Further, some stock side characters become distracting while the dialogue—especially between male players—tends to read as tiresomely quippy. Early on, one of Noah’s pals tells him: “Make the wrong choice, my friend, and they’re gonna come at you like no shit-storm you’ve ever experienced.” Noah responds: “What if I wore my raincoat and used my big golf umbrella?”
An inventive but bumpy redemption tale.
Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2019
Page count: 307pp
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020
During the Civil War, a man and woman from Maine, seeking to avenge a murder, try to track down a Union soldier in this novel.
Zachary Webster is a sharpshooter in the Civil War and has seen plenty of combat. Back home in Maine for a winter furlough, Webster reconnects with his girlfriend, Catherine Brandford, and his younger brother, Elijah, whom he tries to dissuade from volunteering for the war effort. As it happens, Catherine has been spending time with another man, and the jealous Zachary kills him. The victim’s brother, Jedediah Stiller, is an imposing ex-whaler who is “a giant with exotic black-blue tattoos on his cheeks and chin, his long hair tied back with a strip of leather, and both ears pierced with golden earrings.” Jedediah wants revenge and plans to somehow find Webster, who has quickly returned to the front lines. For her part, Catherine desires retribution, too, and decides to become a war nurse in hopes of locating Webster. The two avengers’ separate plans get sidetracked along the way, as Catherine is taken in by a kindly couple whose promises of safety may not be quite what they deliver. Jedediah returns to sea, involuntarily, after being shanghaied and forced into bare-knuckle matches, with the sketchy promises of freedom looking unlikely. Bridgford’s (Hauling Through, 2016) novel begins with some haunting imagery that places readers squarely in the center of its Maine setting: a starving moose pursued by a hungry Webster; a recently deceased patriarch whose body rests “in its coffin in the family barn waiting for the ground to thaw enough to dig his grave.” The conflict’s effect on a small Maine community is an intriguing angle for a Civil War story, and the plot is intensified by the distance the characters have to travel (with many perils along the way) to reach Virginia. Though the war is central to everything in the book, this is mostly a revenge tale that takes a while to get going and can be somewhat long-winded. But as the plot gains speed, Catherine’s and Jedediah’s stories turn into compelling tales full of deception, wickedness, and earthy 19th-century details.
A remarkable Civil War tale about Northern characters fighting for their own freedom as they seek revenge.
Pub Date: July 26, 2018
Page count: 346pp
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Review Posted Online: July 5, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018
Peaks Island, ME
Cormac McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Ed Abbey,
The Road by Cormac McCarthy [No other book conveys the same bleak hopelessness!]
Retired teacher/full-time teacher/charterboat captain
Favorite line from a book
So it goees
Unexpected skill or talent
Can make a decent egg sandwich
Passion in life
writing/boatsPortland Press Herald, 2018 Portland Press Herald Review, 2017
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