Turn on No-Bridge Road


I liked this book.  As the story of a female mid-atlantic southerner and her return to live and make a life at her family farmhouse, the topic of this book was one that I might ordinarily have passed by on the shelf.  The title intrigued me, and as the story unfolded I found it a refreshing and unexpected experience to follow in the life of Claire.  I’ve now enjoyed all three of Semsch’s books and, though there are certain stylistic similarities in their vastly different plots, I find Turn on No-Bridge Road to be my favorite.  Semsch is good at developing story lines using a nonlinear approach while developing characters vividly—these combine to create her defining style: the ability to tell a refreshingly ‘human’ story, replete with all the foibles and false starts of each of our real lives.  Those from the Virginia area will appreciate the local references she incorporates, but this story is by no means one meant just for locals (I live in Seattle!).   An Amazon review


Claire Sutton is almost thirty years old, single, happily employed and self-sufficient when she returns to Devon County on an icy evening in 1979.  She has come to bury her Virginia grandfather and claim an unexpected inheritance—Woodbine Farm—400 acres of Rappahannock riverfront with an 1805 house, a cabin, outbuildings and the family cemetery.  She has no idea how complicated this will be made by the three very determined men she is about to encounter.  Miller Dawson, a friend of her grandfather’s he says, appears out of the snowy darkness that first night after her car ends in a ditch near the Woodbine lane.  What a grumpy, crusty old man, Claire thinks when he taps her guilt by asking, “Haven’t come t’visit for a long time, have ye?”  His goal is to restore the house.  Then there is Jeremiah Weeks, her grandfather’s attorney, who Claire once loved and maybe still does.  She is filled with foreboding at seeing Jerry, who has been married to someone else for ten years.  He has buyers who are very interested in the property; however, the price he suggests is way too low, barely enough to pay her grandfather’s debts.  Lastly, Nicholas Darling, an engaging Northern Virginia architect appears one day during a rainstorm.  Seeking property for a client, he also claims he’s related to Woodbine’s builder.  Nick is unsure why he keeps returning every weekend—is it fascination with the house and its patchwork additions?  Or an attraction to Claire?  It isn’t long before he knows which it is and what he wants.  Claire is quickly entangled in a web of uncertainty.  As tales of former residents, a hidden journal, a family Bible, even the hint of spirits come into play, she finds Woodbine’s charms as irresistible as ever.  Obsessed with an ongoing quest to understand her past, she discovers the old house holds many secrets.  But years will pass before an astonishing truth is revealed, and the last piece of Woodbine’s puzzle drops into place.



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