Times and Places Book Review

Times and Places stories by Gillian Bridge

The earliest time is 1750, the latest 2009. The places range from China and Russia to England and Germany, and from Brunei to Zambia. Stories from all over the world, spanning several centuries. An impressive project!

We learn about long-standing customs from far away countries, some of which go against our modern Western culture, such as arranged marriages and polygamy in Asia. War playsa part; there is a moving story set in England in 1944, involving young children and a German bomber pilot. Here we note the blurry line between good and evil, between kind and unkind. An excellent story about the tensions between England and Germany involves a young woman visiting a family a decade after World War Two. There is a poignant glimpse into revolutionary Russia, which hints subtly at the fear experienced in that uncertain time.

Dissatisfaction and boredom with the every day round of looking after others is well documented, and redeemed by an unexpected gift in Zambia. Sibling rivalry is revealed and resolved as sisters compete in their separate fields and also with each other. Is there a good time to have a child? This question is explored in A Road Well-Traveled.

These stories are beautifully written, with grace and a deft hand. This writer is adept in many different settings, and her characters are well-defined and empathetic. The reader is comfortable wherever Gillian Bridge takes him or her, and is able to relate to the plot even it it feels very foreign. The attention to detail is pleasing, as is the way the reader is unconsciously encouraged to find out what is on the next page. The endings are not necessarily ‘happy’ but they are completely right.

I believe the author is a retired dentist, and she brings the same precision required for that profession, into her writing. A truly delightful and satisfying collection.

Sheila Martindale
The Island Writer