THE SASSAFRAS CROSSING by Lindrith Davies

THE SASSAFRAS CROSSING

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A new life of friends and young love begins for Robin George when he forsakes his Maryland family’s retail empire to work as a bridge tender.

First-time author Davies’ lyrical novel reads like a true labor of love, with an endearing cast and a fondly rendered locale. The time period is the early 1980s in the Georgetown/Chestertown vicinity in Kent County, Maryland. Traversed by many rivers entering the Chesapeake Bay, the area sustains a strong boating and college-town culture. This is where young Robinson George, heir to his family’s chain of big-box drugstores, accepts an obscure state job as apprentice bridge tender—a contemplative gig operating (and practically dwelling inside) an old drawbridge spanning a waterway used by pleasure boaters. Robin joins the “brotherhood of the bridge,” which includes the widowed, ailing old tender Sean Flaherty; the big, laconic Odis; Father Hunter, a liberal-minded Catholic priest; and Sarah, a lesbian newspaper reporter covering the region. Robin’s new life coincides with a dizzying affair with the voluptuous Melinda McClellan, a more experienced older woman starting a promising but slightly anxious career as a vocalist on the regional coffeehouse circuit. The sensuous Melinda moves in with Robin, smitten by his good-hearted infatuation, but she does not seem to consider the arrangement monogamous or lasting. Indeed, a redevelopment scheme aims to demolish the old, possibly failing mechanical bridge in favor of an impersonal, high-rise motorway. The idyll can’t last, a fact confronted by the ensemble with wise acceptance—one might even say too much wise acceptance, as even Robin’s bourgeois parents don’t dispute his sudden veering off the life/business plan. Elements of R&B music and Roman Catholicism (a pretty progressive brand, considering all this technically happens during the Reagan years) flavor the thoughtful, elegiac narrative.

Gentle, music-infused romantic drama taking place in an out-of-the-way spot on the Eastern Seaboard.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-692-70618-3
Page count: 338pp
Publisher: Herman Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2017




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieThe Old Bentley Schoolhouse by Vicki Margo Stuve Hughes
by Vicki Margo Stuve Hughes
IndieTHE PROMISE OF PIERSON ORCHARD  by Kate Brandes
by Kate Brandes
FictionBRIDGE OF SIGHS by Richard Russo
by Richard Russo