The Bridge Tender, by Marybeth Whalen, begins with a prologue that introduces the reader to newlyweds Emily and Ryan. They honeymoon on Sunset Beach and decide that one day they will have a home there. Chapter One begins five years later and Emily is now a widow. Ryan’s death has devastated her and she struggles to cope. Unexpectedly she learns that Ryan had secretly taken out a large insurance policy naming her as beneficiary. His final letter to her tells her why-he wants her to buy a home on Sunset Beach.
Prodded by her best friend, eventually Emily does look for a house. She finds one that is owned by a widow who is also honoring the last wish of her spouse. Emily soon learns that the historic Sunset Beach Pontoon Swing Bridge has become a point of contention. Some want it replaced and others want it left alone. This is a very important bridge that means many different things to many people. Gradually, Emily tries to become part of the community, but she does not share the heartache she feels with the people she meets. She is drawn to a teenage girl that she feels needs help. Taking a great emotional risk she reaches out to her. A relationship develops and the results are surprising. As a teenager, Emily had a crush on a movie star. Unexpectedly, she learns that he now lives quietly on Sunset Beach. Her next door neighbor becomes the friend she needs.
This is a beautifully written novel that follows the life of a woman whose life takes a path she never expected. The author has skillfully crafted a story that deals with loss and heartache and the power of unexpected gifts. I recommend reading this book.
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