Bridge of Sighs

( 95 )

Overview

Six years after the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning Empire Falls, Richard Russo returns with a novel that expands even further his widely heralded achievement.

Louis Charles (“Lucy”) Lynch has spent all his sixty years in upstate Thomaston, New York, married to the same woman, Sarah, for forty of them, their son now a grown man. Like his late, beloved father, Lucy is an optimist, though he’s had plenty of reasons not to be—chief among them his mother, still indomitably ...

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Overview

Six years after the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning Empire Falls, Richard Russo returns with a novel that expands even further his widely heralded achievement.

Louis Charles (“Lucy”) Lynch has spent all his sixty years in upstate Thomaston, New York, married to the same woman, Sarah, for forty of them, their son now a grown man. Like his late, beloved father, Lucy is an optimist, though he’s had plenty of reasons not to be—chief among them his mother, still indomitably alive. Yet it was her shrewdness, combined with that Lynch optimism, that had propelled them years ago to the right side of the tracks and created an “empire” of convenience stores about to be passed on to the next generation.

Lucy and Sarah are also preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy, where his oldest friend, a renowned painter, has exiled himself far from anything they’d known in childhood. In fact, the exact nature of their friendship is one of the many mysteries Lucy hopes to untangle in the “history” he’s writing of his hometown and family. And with his story interspersed with that of Noonan, the native son who’d fled so long ago, the destinies building up around both of them (and Sarah, too) are relentless, constantly surprising, and utterly revealing.

Bridge of Sighs is classic Russo, coursing with small-town rhythms and the claims of family, yet it is brilliantly enlarged by an expatriate whose motivations and experiences—often contrary, sometimes not—prove every bit as mesmerizing as they resonate through these richly different lives. Here is a town, as well as a world, defined by magnificent and nearly devastating contradictions. 

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
It is not possible to describe what Mr. Russo does without letting the word "quirky" creep in. That's because so much of Bridge of Sighs concerns itself with oddball details, from petty rivalries between the Lynch and Marconi families to the Lynch in-house dispute about how to run a convenience store…But in the midst of these small matters, the big contours of Bridge of Sighs emerge. They are richly evocative and beautifully wrought, delivered with deceptive ease. Another of Mr. Russo's hallmarks is that wonderfully unfashionable gift for effortless storytelling on a sweeping, multigenerational scale…Some of this book's most memorable moments take the form of sharp, funny storytelling. Some emerge more amorphously through intuitive visions. And each of the main characters has a Bridge of Sighs lodged somewhere in his or her consciousness. Robert Noonan's arrives, unbidden, on one of his canvases. Sarah's also manifests itself through art. And Lucy's exists in the state of semiconsciousness into which he has crept fearfully since that childhood disturbance. It tempts him to get out of Thomaston. Even more persuasively, Mr. Russo tempts his readers to come in.
—The New York Times
Ron Charles
Richard Russo was already the patron saint of small-town fiction, but with his new novel, Bridge of Sighs—his first since the Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls—he's produced his most American story. Once again he places us in a finely drawn community that's unable to adjust to economic changes, and with insight and sensitivity he describes ordinary people struggling to get by. But more than ever before, Russo ties this novel to the oldest preoccupations of our national consciousness by focusing on the nature of optimism and the limits of self-invention…in the course of this enormous and enormously moving novel, I was continually seduced by Russo's insight and gentle humor, his ability to discern the ways we love and frustrate each other. Toward the end, before a trip to Boston, Lucy writes, "We will leave this small, good world behind us with the comfort of knowing it'll be here when we return." One sets down Russo's work with the same comforting reassurance.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

The challenge facing those who perform Russo's novels is the self-effacing, low-key nature of his protagonists. The line between a faithful rendition of the character and a snoozer may be as narrow as the street that divides the rich from the poor in Russo's upstate New York town of Thomaston. Unfortunately, Morey's performance finds itself the poor side of the tracks. Lou C. ("Lucy") Lynch's narration of events is read in an even, objective tone as if Morey were reading the evening news on an amateur radio show. He does emphasize words and ideas, but the overall effect is monotonous and doesn't do justice to Russo's rich material. Morey's narrative voice for Bobby, Lucy's childhood friend and nemesis, is deeper but more of the same. Morey gives a bit more energy to the third narrator, Sarah, Lou's wife. The result is more soporific than a Thanksgiving turkey, and getting through Russo's sharp account of the factory towns he knows so well becomes more a chore than a pleasure. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 13). (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

With the same humor and pathos that turned Empire Fallsand Straight Maninto best sellers, Russo's latest tale unravels the tangled skein of love, regret, hope, and longing that wraps itself around friends and family in a small upstate New York town. Russo's multigenerational tale follows the fortunes of two families, especially the careers of the respective sons. Although Louis Charles Lynch and Bobby Marconi come from very different backgrounds, they bond over Bobby's defense of Lou in elementary school. As they grow older, they drift apart, with Bobby changing his name to Robert Noonan and moving to Venice, where he becomes a world-famous artist. Louis stays in Thomaston, marries high school sweetheart Sarah (also an artist), and helps out his family in their grocery store. Although Louis reluctantly agrees to visit Venice with Sarah, several events converge to alter their plans (including Sarah and Bobby's possible love for each other), and their lives change in ways that neither could have anticipated. While Russo's tale gets off to a slow start and the attempt to tell the parallel stories of Louis and Bobby is not always successful, Russo's novel is nevertheless a winning story of the strange ways that parents and children, lovers and friends connect and thrive. [See Prepub Alert, LJ6/1/07.]
—Henry L. Carrigan Jr.

Kirkus Reviews
A dying town symbolizes arcs separately traced by people who abandon it and others who stubbornly stay home, believing change must be for the best, in Russo's (The Whore's Child: and Other Stories, 2005, etc.) crowded sixth novel. Its setting (fictional Thomaston in upstate New York) resembles that of both his early books set thereabouts (Mohawk, The Risk Pool) and his New England-based Pulitzer-winner Empire Falls. Thomaston is the site of the now-defunct tannery that had provided jobs and is now suspected of causing cancer. It's the hometown of Lou C. Lynch (tormented, inevitably, by the lasting nickname "Lucy") and his wife Sarah, now 60-ish and hoping to pass on their family's "empire" of convenience stores to the next generation. A narrative composed by Lou (about his hometown and himself) is juxtaposed with memories of his childhood and youth, and with a parallel narrative set in Venice, where the Lynches' childhood friend Bobby Marconi now lives as a gifted, renegade artist-and a cancer victim. Nobody now writing rivals Russo at untangling the knots of family connection, love and sexuality, ambition and compromise, fidelity and betrayal that link and afflict a formidable gallery of vividly observed, generously portrayed characters. Prominent among them: Lou's eternal-optimist father and namesake; his stoical mother Tessa; the lower-class boys who taunt and threaten him and the girls he turned to (and sometimes loved); and the luckless Marconis, victimized by a viciously abusive father. Every page bristles with life. True, many of the details and motifs (e.g., an embattled family business; prosperity transformed by inevitable change; a black-sheep sibling) closely echo the matter ofEmpire Falls. Nevertheless, this is a wise, uplifting book: a big-hearted, often comic, yet sturdily realistic testament to the resiliency of ordinary people who surprise us, and themselves, by coping, rebuilding and moving on. Rich, confounding and absorbing-utterly irresistible. First printing of 200,000
From the Publisher
"Russo's attention to the currents of friendship and family life, the conflicts, anxieties and irritations that mingle with affection and loyalty, make Bridge of Sighs a continual flow of little revelations . . . a story of constantly evolving complexity and depth . . . It's Russo's most intricate, multifaceted novel . . . enormous and enormously moving." —Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

"A great American story . . . Beautiful, funny, profound and, in the end, quietly devastating. It's a book built to endure." —Kyle Smith, People (4 stars)

"Russo makes sexual ambiguity feel homey and familiar, and he does it here with consequences more emotionally weighty than ever before. His novels have that pleasurable roominess of books rich in story and quick in prose style, but in Bridge of Sighs, he crosses from bittersweet comedy to the realm of tragedy." —Vince Passaro, O Magazine

"His most ambitious and best work." —Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today

"Engrossing . . . Russo writes about [his] characters—their fistfights, bar nights, secret kisses, self-delusions—with such warmth that, whether it turns out to be a hellhole or heaven on earth, you're grateful to be back on his turf." —Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly

"A novel of great warmth, charm and intimacy . . . richly evocative and beautifully wrought." —Janet Maslin, New York Times

"[A] magnificent, bighearted new novel [and] an astounding achievement . . . From its lovely beginning to its exquisite, perfect end, Russo has written a masterpiece." —Mameve Medwed, Boston Sunday Globe

"A winning story of the strange ways that parents and children, lovers and friends connect and thrive." —Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., Library Journal

"Nobody now writing rivals Russo at untangling the knots of family connection, love and sexuality, ambition and compromise, fidelity and betrayal that link and afflict a formidable gallery of vividly observed, generously portrayed characters . . . A wise, uplifting book: a big-hearted, often comic, yet sturdily realistic testament to the resiliency of ordinary people who surprise us, and themselves, by coping, rebuilding and moving on. Rich, confounding and absorbing—utterly irresistable." —Kirkus, starred review

"Here is the novel Russo was born to write . . . Coursing with humor and humanity . . . it is a seamless interweaving of childhood memories, tragic incidents, and unforgettable dialogue." —Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

"From the first page, when narrator Lou C. "Lucy" Lynch begins to speak, readers will be drawn so completely into Russo's world that putting the book down each time feels like a shock." —Kirkus

"[A] splendid chronicle . . . Russo has a deep and real understanding of stifled ambitions and the secrets people keep, sometimes forever. Bridge of Sighs, on every page, is largehearted, vividly populated and filled with life from America's recent, still vanishing past." —Jeffrey Frank, Publishers Weekly, signature review

The Barnes & Noble Review
After a lifetime lived in the same small upstate New York town, Lou C. Lynch, a deeply cautious and conventional man, is headed for a vacation in Italy. It's an improbable leap for this most improbable hero of Bridge of Sighs, but with Richard Russo -- master of blue-collar life (and a Pulitzer Prize winner, after all) -- at the helm, even the most oddball of setups can yield riches.

There's nothing much heroic about Lou, who was saddled with the unfortunate nickname "Lucy" during roll call on his first day of kindergarten. He's 60 years old now, large and soft, married for 40 years to his wife, Sarah. They own three small corner markets in Thomaston, a company town whose main industry, a tannery, has literally poisoned the soil they live on.

The Italy trip is Sarah's idea, and though Lou is outwardly willing, he's dreading it. Sure, he gets his passport and reads a guidebook or two, but he also chooses this time to start writing a memoir. It's here that we meet him, in the pages of his own book, in which he seeks to make sense of his life. There's nothing about his fussy, formal, and sometimes florid voice that can prepare us for the explosive mysteries his recollections expose.

Each question has multiple answers that, as they shape this novel's sweeping saga, force an examination of love and fate and destiny. Along the way, Russo introduces a dizzying number of characters. There's Lou's father, a cockeyed optimist, and his mother, forced into the thankless role of pragmatist. There's the enigma of Bobby's parents, a beaten-down wife and a sadistic husband. It's Sarah's father, a pot-smoking high school teacher, who cracks open the story -- and his students' minds -- with his bent and belligerent genius. Lou, an innocent, loves -- and mourns -- them all in his memoir. His inner voice, unlike his buffoonish exterior, reveals unexpected depth. "The loss of a place isn't really so different from the loss of a person," Lou writes. "Both disappear without permission, leaving the self diminished, in need of testimony and evidence."

Russo plays with time throughout Bridge of Sighs. He switches voices from young Lou to grown-up Lou, from grown-up Bobby to Bobby at 18 years old. It's a rare gift, to be able to tell a story backward and forward and sideways all at once. Keeping us balanced on the slender ledge of what was and what may be takes a master's skill, and Russo's got it. He lures you through each page, eager to see how the destinies of these very different people will collide. And collide they will, there's no mistaking Russo's intent. As the climax draws near, it feels like those delicious, vertiginous moments of ascent in a roller coaster, where all that's familiar slips away and there you are, flying through space, just that slender bar across your lap to keep you safe.

There are plenty of small, treasurable moments, too. Here's teenage Lou thinking about sex for perhaps the first time as he watches a couple of classmates leave his father's store.

"Let's go," Jerzy said, then hooked his index finger into the waistband of Karen's slacks and gave it a gentle tug. When the material stretched, I could see that his finger was between her bare skin and her underpants -- a gesture made even more staggering by the fact that she didn't seem to object. Sex, I thought, just that one word. The slender finger slipped down between her bare skin and panties meant sex. Russo's writing is so tidy and precise that when he carelessly repeats a word in a single sentence, it carries the shock of a misplayed chord. Twice, a fleeing woman's suitcase falls open to spill its secret contents into a public street. The shirts and bras and toothbrush and panties all get stuffed back in, "after which, of course, it wouldn't close." We get what it means -- that after a certain kind of breaking point, there's no going back -- but what's it mean to Russo that he plays the same scene twice?
In the end, Bridge of Sighs is as much about class as it is about place. It's about the divisions within a town and within a character's heart. As Lou moves from the bad to the better to the good side of town, as he marries and raises a family, loses and gains friends, he asks himself -- and us -- is he a person who lives his dreams, or does he flee them?

A final question, in the closing pages of the book, seems directed to the reader as well: "How many times, after all, does the same person get to break your heart?" Lou asks.

That depends. When it's Russo, writing this soulful, painful and, yes, hopeful story, the answer turns out to be as many times as there are pages to be turned. --Veronique de Turenne

Veronique de Turenne is a Los Angeles-based journalist, essayist and playwright. Her literary criticism appears on NPR and in major American newspapers. One of the highlights of her career was interviewing Vin Scully in his broadcast booth at Dodger Stadium, then receiving a handwritten thank-you note from him a few days later.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400030903
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/12/2008
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 275,320
  • Product dimensions: 7.98 (w) x 5.24 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Russo

Richard Russo lives with his wife in coastal Maine. He is available for lectures and readings thorugh the Knopf Speaker's Bureau. http://www.knopfspeakersbureau.com.

Biography

Prizewinning author Richard Russo is regarded by many critics as the best writer about small-town America since Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis. "He doesn't over-sentimentalize [small towns]," said Maureen Corrigan, the book critic for NPR's "Fresh Air." Nor does he belittle the dreams and hardships of his working-class characters. "I come from a blue-collar family myself and I think he gets the class interactions; he just really nails class in his novels," said Corrigan.

When Russo left his own native small town in upstate New York, it was with hopes of becoming a college professor. But during his graduate studies, he began to have second thoughts about the academic life. While finishing up his doctorate, he took a creative writing class; and a new career path opened in front of him.

Russo's first novel set the tone for much of his later work. The story of an ailing industrial town and the interwoven lives of its inhabitants, Mohawk won critical praise for its witty, engaging style. In subsequent books, he has brought us a dazzling cast of characters, mostly working-class men and women who are struggling with the problems of everyday life (poor health, unemployment, mounting bills, failed marriages) in dilapidated, claustrophobic burghs that have -- like their denizens -- seen better days. In 2001, Russo received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, a brilliant, tragicomic set-piece that explores past and present relationships in a once-thriving Maine town whose textile mill and shirt factory have gone bust.

Russo's vision of America would be bleak, except for the wit and optimism he infuses into his stories. Even when his characters are less than lovable, they are funny, rueful, and unfailingly human. "There's a version of myself that I still see in a kind of alternative universe and it's some small town in upstate New York or someplace like that," Russo said in an interview. That ability to envision himself in the bars and diners of small-town America has served him well. "After the last sentence is read, the reader continues to see Russo's tender, messed-up people coming out of doorways, lurching through life," said the fiction writer Annie Proulx. "And keeps on seeing them because they are as real as we are."

Good To Know

In 1994, Russo's book Nobody's Fool was made into a movie starring Paul Newman and Bruce Willis. Newman also starred in the 1998 movie Twilight, for which Russo wrote the screenplay. Russo now divides his time between writing fiction and writing for the movies.

When he wrote his first books, Russo was employed full-time as a college teacher, and would stop at the local diner between classes to work on his novels. After the success of Nobody's Fool (the book and the movie), he was able to quit teaching -- but he still likes to write in spots such as the Camden Deli. It's "a less lonely way to write," he told USA Today. "I'm less self-conscious when it's not so quiet."

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    1. Hometown:
      Gloversville, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 15, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Johnstown, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Arizona, 1967; Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1979; M.F.A., University of Arizona, 1980

Read an Excerpt

Berman Court

First, the facts.

My name is Louis Charles Lynch. I am sixty years old, and for nearly forty of those years I’ve been a devoted if not terribly exciting husband to the same lovely woman, as well as a doting father to Owen, our son, who is now himself a grown, married man. He and his wife are childless and likely, alas, to so remain. Earlier in my marriage it appeared as if we’d be blessed with a daughter, but a car accident when my wife was in her fourth month caused her to miscarry. That was a long time ago, but Sarah still thinks about the child and so do I.

Perhaps what’s most remarkable about my life is that I’ve lived all of it in the same small town in upstate New York, a thing unheard of in this day and age. My wife’s parents moved here when she was a little girl, so she has few memories before Thomaston, and her situation isn’t much different from my own. Some people, upon learning how we’ve lived our lives, are unable to conceal their chagrin on our behalf, that our lives should be so limited, as if experience so geographically circumscribed could be neither rich nor satisfying. When I assure them that it has been both, their smiles suggest we’ve been blessed with self-deception by way of compensation for all we’ve missed. I remind such people that until fairly recently the vast majority of humans have been circumscribed in precisely this manner and that lives can also be constrained by a great many other things: want, illness, ignorance, loneliness and lack of faith, to name just a few. But it’s probably true my wife would have traveled more if she’d married someone else, and my unwillingness to become the vagabond is just one of the ways I’ve been, as I said, an unexciting if loyal and unwavering companion. She’s heard all of my arguments, philosophical and other, for staying put; in her mind they all amount to little more than my natural inclination, inertia rationalized. She may be right. That said, I don’t think Sarah has been unhappy in our marriage. She loves me and our son and, I think, our life. She assured me of this not long ago when it appeared she might lose her own and, sick with worry, I asked if she’d regretted the good simple life we’ve made together.

Though our pace, never breakneck, has slowed recently, I like to think that the real reason we’ve not seen more of the world is that Thomaston itself has always been both luxuriant and demanding. In addition to the corner store we inherited from my parents, we now own and operate two other convenience stores. My son wryly refers to these as “the Lynch Empire,” and while the demands of running them are not overwhelming, they are relentless and time-consuming. Each is like a pet that refuses to be housebroken and resents being left alone. In addition to these demands on my time, I also serve on a great many committees, so many, in fact, that late in life I’ve acquired a nickname, Mr. Mayor—a tribute to my civic-mindedness that contains, I’m well aware, an element of gentle derision. Sarah believes that people take advantage of my good nature, my willingness to listen carefully to everyone, even after it’s become clear they have nothing to say. She worries that I often return home late in the evening and then not in the best of humors, a natural result of the fact that the civic pie we divide grows smaller each year, even as our community’s needs continue dutifully to grow. Every year the arguments over how we spend our diminished and diminishing assets become less civil, less respectful, and my wife believes it’s high time for younger men to shoulder their fair share of the responsibility, not to mention the attendant abuse. In principle I heartily agree, though in practice I no sooner resign from one committee than I’m persuaded to join another. And Sarah’s no one to talk, serving as she has, until her recent illness, on far too many boards and development committees.

Be all that as it may, the well-established rhythms of our adult lives will soon be interrupted most violently, for despite my inclination to stay put, we are soon to travel, my wife and I. I have but one month to prepare for this momentous change and mentally adjust to the loss of my precious routines—my rounds, I call them—that take me into every part of town on an almost daily basis. Too little time, I maintain, for a man so set in his ways, but I have agreed to all of it. I’ve had my passport photo taken, filled out my application at the post office and mailed all the necessary documents to the State Department, all under the watchful eye of my wife and son, who seem to believe that my lifelong aversion to travel might actually cause me to sabotage our plans. Owen in particular sustains this unkind view of his father, as if I’d deny his mother anything, after all she’s been through. “Watch him, Ma,” he advises, narrowing his eyes at me in what I hope is mock suspicion. “You know how he is.”

Italy. We will go to Italy. Rome, then Florence, and finally Venice.

No sooner did I agree than we were marooned in a sea of guidebooks that my wife now studies like a madwoman. “Aqua alta,” she said last night after she’d finally turned off the light, her voice near and intimate in the dark. She found my hand and gave it a squeeze under the covers. “In Venice there’s something called aqua alta. High water.”

“How high?” I said.

“The calles flood.”

“What’s a calle?”

“If you’d do some reading, you’d know that streets in Italy are called calles.”

“How many of us need to know that?” I asked her. “You’re going to be there, right? I’m not going alone, am I?”

“When the aqua alta is bad, all of St. Mark’s is underwater.”

“The whole church?” I said. “How tall is it?”

She sighed loudly. “St. Mark’s isn’t a church. It’s a plaza. The plaza of San Marco. Do you need me to explain what a plaza is?”

Actually, I’d known that calles were streets and hadn’t really needed an explanation of aqua alta either. But my militant ignorance on the subject of all things Italian has quickly become a game between us, one we both enjoy.

“We may need boots,” my wife ventured.

“We have boots.”

“Rubber boots. Aqua alta boots. They sound a siren.”

“If you don’t have the right boots, they sound a siren?”

She gave me a swift kick under the covers. “To warn you. That the high water’s coming. So you’ll wear your boots.”

“Who lives like this?”

“Venetians.”

“Maybe I’ll just sit in the car and wait for the water to recede.”

Another kick. “No cars.”

“Right. No cars.”

“Lou?”

“No cars,” I repeated. “Got it. Calles where the streets should be. No cars in the calles, though, not one.”

“We haven’t heard back from Bobby.”

Our old friend. Our third musketeer from senior year of high school. Long, long gone from us. She didn’t have to tell me we hadn’t heard back. “Maybe he’s moved. Maybe he doesn’t live in Venice anymore.”

“Maybe he’d rather not see us.”

“Why? Why would he not want to see us?”

I could feel my wife shrug in the dark, and feel our sense of play running aground. “How’s your story coming?”

“Good,” I told her. “I’ve been born already. A chronological approach is best, don’t you think?”

“I thought you were writing a history of Thomaston,” she said.

“Thomaston’s in it, but so am I.”

“How about me?” she said, taking my hand again.

“Not yet. I’m still just a baby. You’re still downstate. Out of sight, out of mind.”

“You could lie. You could say I lived next door. That way we’d always be together.” Playful again, now.

“I’ll think about it,” I said. “But the people who actually lived next door are the problem. I’d have to evict them.”

“I wouldn’t want you to do that.”

“It is tempting to lie, though,” I admitted.

“About what?” She yawned, and I knew she’d be asleep and snoring peacefully in another minute or two.

“Everything.”

“Lou?”

“What.”

“Promise me you won’t let it become an obsession.”

It’s true. I’m prone to obsession. “It won’t be,” I promised her.

But I’m not the only reason my wife is on guard against obsession. Her father, who taught English at the high school, spent his summers writing a novel that by the end had swollen to more than a thousand single-spaced pages and still with no end in sight. I myself am drawn to shorter narratives. Of late, obituaries. It troubles my wife that I read them with my morning coffee, going directly to that section of the newspaper, but turning sixty does that, does it not? Death isn’t an obsession, just a reality. Last month I read of the death—in yet another car accident—of a man whose life had been intertwined with mine since we were boys. I slipped it into the envelope that contained my wife’s letter, the one that announced our forthcoming travels, to our old friend Bobby, who will remember him well. Obituaries, I believe, are really less about death than the odd shapes life takes, the patterns that death allows us to see. At sixty, these patterns are important.

“I’m thinking fifty pages should do it. A hundred, tops. And I’ve already got a title: The Dullest Story Ever Told.”

When she had no response to this, I glanced over and saw that her breathing had become regular, that her eyes were closed, lids fluttering.

It’s possible, of course, that Bobby might prefer not to see us, his oldest friends. Not everyone, Sarah reminds me, values the past as I do. Dwells on it, she no doubt means. Loves it. Is troubled by it. Alludes to it in conversation without appropriate transition. Had I finished my university degree, as my mother desperately wanted me to, it would have been in history, and that might have afforded me ample justification for this inclination to gaze backward. But Bobby—having fled our town, state and nation at eighteen—may have little desire to stroll down memory lane. After living all over Europe, he might well have all but forgotten those he fled. I can joke about mine being “the dullest story ever told,” but to a man like Bobby it probably isn’t so very far from the truth. I could go back over my correspondence with him, though I think I know what I’d find in it—polite acknowledgment of whatever I’ve sent him, news that someone we’d both known as boys has married, or divorced, or been arrested, or diagnosed, or died. But little beyond acknowledgment. His responses to my newsy letters will contain no requests for further information, no Do you ever hear from so-and-so anymore? Still, I’m confident Bobby would be happy to see us, that my wife and I haven’t become inconsequential to him.

Why not admit it? Of late, he has been much on my mind.

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First Chapter

Berman Court
First, the facts.
My name is Louis Charles Lynch. I am sixty years old, and for nearly forty of those years I’ve been a devoted if not terribly exciting husband to the same lovely woman, as well as a doting father to Owen, our son, who is now himself a grown, married man. He and his wife are childless and likely, alas, to so remain. Earlier in my marriage it appeared as if we’d be blessed with a daughter, but a car accident when my wife was in her fourth month caused her to miscarry. That was a long time ago, but Sarah still thinks about the child and so do I.
Perhaps what’s most remarkable about my life is that I’ve lived all of it in the same small town in upstate New York, a thing unheard of in this day and age. My wife’s parents moved here when she was a little girl, so she has few memories before Thomaston, and her situation isn’t much different from my own. Some people, upon learning how we’ve lived our lives, are unable to conceal their chagrin on our behalf, that our lives should be so limited, as if experience so geographically circumscribed could be neither rich nor satisfying. When I assure them that it has been both, their smiles suggest we’ve been blessed with self-deception by way of compensation for all we’ve missed. I remind such people that until fairly recently the vast majority of humans have been circumscribed in precisely this manner and that lives can also be constrained by a great many other things: want, illness, ignorance, loneliness and lack of faith, to name just a few. But it’s probably true my wife would have traveled more if she’d married someone else, andmy unwillingness to become the vagabond is just one of the ways I’ve been, as I said, an unexciting if loyal and unwavering companion. She’s heard all of my arguments, philosophical and other, for staying put; in her mind they all amount to little more than my natural inclination, inertia rationalized. She may be right. That said, I don’t think Sarah has been unhappy in our marriage. She loves me and our son and, I think, our life. She assured me of this not long ago when it appeared she might lose her own and, sick with worry, I asked if she’d regretted the good simple life we’ve made together.
Though our pace, never breakneck, has slowed recently, I like to think that the real reason we’ve not seen more of the world is that Thomaston itself has always been both luxuriant and demanding. In addition to the corner store we inherited from my parents, we now own and operate two other convenience stores. My son wryly refers to these as “the Lynch Empire,” and while the demands of running them are not overwhelming, they are relentless and time-consuming. Each is like a pet that refuses to be housebroken and resents being left alone. In addition to these demands on my time, I also serve on a great many committees, so many, in fact, that late in life I’ve acquired a nickname, Mr. Mayor—a tribute to my civic-mindedness that contains, I’m well aware, an element of gentle derision. Sarah believes that people take advantage of my good nature, my willingness to listen carefully to everyone, even after it’s become clear they have nothing to say. She worries that I often return home late in the evening and then not in the best of humors, a natural result of the fact that the civic pie we divide grows smaller each year, even as our community’s needs continue dutifully to grow. Every year the arguments over how we spend our diminished and diminishing assets become less civil, less respectful, and my wife believes it’s high time for younger men to shoulder their fair share of the responsibility, not to mention the attendant abuse. In principle I heartily agree, though in practice I no sooner resign from one committee than I’m persuaded to join another. And Sarah’s no one to talk, serving as she has, until her recent illness, on far too many boards and development committees.
Be all that as it may, the well-established rhythms of our adult lives will soon be interrupted most violently, for despite my inclination to stay put, we are soon to travel, my wife and I. I have but one month to prepare for this momentous change and mentally adjust to the loss of my precious routines—my rounds, I call them—that take me into every part of town on an almost daily basis. Too little time, I maintain, for a man so set in his ways, but I have agreed to all of it. I’ve had my passport photo taken, filled out my application at the post office and mailed all the necessary documents to the State Department, all under the watchful eye of my wife and son, who seem to believe that my lifelong aversion to travel might actually cause me to sabotage our plans. Owen in particular sustains this unkind view of his father, as if I’d deny his mother anything, after all she’s been through. “Watch him, Ma,” he advises, narrowing his eyes at me in what I hope is mock suspicion. “You know how he is.”
Italy. We will go to Italy. Rome, then Florence, and finally Venice.
No sooner did I agree than we were marooned in a sea of guidebooks that my wife now studies like a madwoman. “Aqua alta,” she said last night after she’d finally turned off the light, her voice near and intimate in the dark. She found my hand and gave it a squeeze under the covers. “In Venice there’s something called aqua alta. High water.”
“How high?” I said.
“The calles flood.”
“What’s a calle?”
“If you’d do some reading, you’d know that streets in Italy are called calles.”
“How many of us need to know that?” I asked her. “You’re going to be there, right? I’m not going alone, am I?”
“When the aqua alta is bad, all of St. Mark’s is underwater.”
“The whole church?” I said. “How tall is it?”
She sighed loudly. “St. Mark’s isn’t a church. It’s a plaza. The plaza of San Marco. Do you need me to explain what a plaza is?”
Actually, I’d known that calles were streets and hadn’t really needed an explanation of aqua alta either. But my militant ignorance on the subject of all things Italian has quickly become a game between us, one we both enjoy.
“We may need boots,” my wife ventured.
“We have boots.”
“Rubber boots. Aqua alta boots. They sound a siren.”
“If you don’t have the right boots, they sound a siren?”
She gave me a swift kick under the covers. “To warn you. That the high water’s coming. So you’ll wear your boots.”
“Who lives like this?”
“Venetians.”
“Maybe I’ll just sit in the car and wait for the water to recede.”
Another kick. “No cars.”
“Right. No cars.”
“Lou?”
“No cars,” I repeated. “Got it. Calles where the streets should be. No cars in the calles, though, not one.”
“We haven’t heard back from Bobby.”
Our old friend. Our third musketeer from senior year of high school. Long, long gone from us. She didn’t have to tell me we hadn’t heard back. “Maybe he’s moved. Maybe he doesn’t live in Venice anymore.”
“Maybe he’d rather not see us.”
“Why? Why would he not want to see us?”
I could feel my wife shrug in the dark, and feel our sense of play running aground. “How’s your story coming?”
“Good,” I told her. “I’ve been born already. A chronological approach is best, don’t you think?”
“I thought you were writing a history of Thomaston,” she said.
“Thomaston’s in it, but so am I.”
“How about me?” she said, taking my hand again.
“Not yet. I’m still just a baby. You’re still downstate. Out of sight, out of mind.”
“You could lie. You could say I lived next door. That way we’d always be together.” Playful again, now.
“I’ll think about it,” I said. “But the people who actually lived next door are the problem. I’d have to evict them.”
“I wouldn’t want you to do that.”
“It is tempting to lie, though,” I admitted.
“About what?” She yawned, and I knew she’d be asleep and snoring peacefully in another minute or two.
“Everything.”
“Lou?”
“What.”
“Promise me you won’t let it become an obsession.”
It’s true. I’m prone to obsession. “It won’t be,” I promised her.
But I’m not the only reason my wife is on guard against obsession. Her father, who taught English at the high school, spent his summers writing a novel that by the end had swollen to more than a thousand single-spaced pages and still with no end in sight. I myself am drawn to shorter narratives. Of late, obituaries. It troubles my wife that I read them with my morning coffee, going directly to that section of the newspaper, but turning sixty does that, does it not? Death isn’t an obsession, just a reality. Last month I read of the death—in yet another car accident—of a man whose life had been intertwined with mine since we were boys. I slipped it into the envelope that contained my wife’s letter, the one that announced our forthcoming travels, to our old friend Bobby, who will remember him well. Obituaries, I believe, are really less about death than the odd shapes life takes, the patterns that death allows us to see. At sixty, these patterns are important.
“I’m thinking fifty pages should do it. A hundred, tops. And I’ve already got a title: The Dullest Story Ever Told.”
When she had no response to this, I glanced over and saw that her breathing had become regular, that her eyes were closed, lids fluttering.
It’s possible, of course, that Bobby might prefer not to see us, his oldest friends. Not everyone, Sarah reminds me, values the past as I do. Dwells on it, she no doubt means. Loves it. Is troubled by it. Alludes to it in conversation without appropriate transition. Had I finished my university degree, as my mother desperately wanted me to, it would have been in history, and that might have afforded me ample justification for this inclination to gaze backward. But Bobby—having fled our town, state and nation at eighteen—may have little desire to stroll down memory lane. After living all over Europe, he might well have all but forgotten those he fled. I can joke about mine being “the dullest story ever told,” but to a man like Bobby it probably isn’t so very far from the truth. I could go back over my correspondence with him, though I think I know what I’d find in it—polite acknowledgment of whatever I’ve sent him, news that someone we’d both known as boys has married, or divorced, or been arrested, or diagnosed, or died. But little beyond acknowledgment. His responses to my newsy letters will contain no requests for further information, no Do you ever hear from so-and-so anymore? Still, I’m confident Bobby would be happy to see us, that my wife and I haven’t become inconsequential to him.
Why not admit it? Of late, he has been much on my mind.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Bridge of Sighs alternates two narratives: Lucy’s first-person memoir and the story of Robert Noonan. What are the advantages of this structure? How does it affect the way plot unfolds? Does it influence your impressions of the main characters?

2. How does Lucy’s description of Thomaston [pp.9–11] create an immediate sense of time and place? What details did you find particularly evocative? What does Lucy’s tone, as well as the way he presents various facts about Thomaston and its history, reveal about his perceptiveness and his intelligence?

3. Lucy says, “I’ve always known that there’s more going on inside me than finds its way into the world, but this is probably true of everyone. Who doesn’t regret that he isn’t more fully understood?” [p. 12]. To what extent does this feeling lie at the heart of his decision to write his book? Does it play a central role in memoir-writing in general? What else does Lucy hope to accomplish by recalling his past? At the beginning, does he see the dangers, as well as the benefits, of examining his life and the people and events that shaped him?

4. The horrific prank the neighborhood boys play on Lucy [pp. 21–30] triggers the first of many “spells” he will have throughout his life. What is the significance of his spells? What do they reveal about the emotional attachments, anxieties, and doubts that define him both as a child and as an adult?

5. Lucy makes many references to the pursuit of the American Dream and its implications within his own family and in society in general [pp. 52–55, 78, 92–93, for example]. In what ways did American attitudes in the postwar years embody both the best parts of our national character and its darker undercurrents? What incidents in the novel illuminate the uneasiness and enmity that results from the class, racial, and economic divisions in Thomaston? Do Lucy’s beliefs, judgments, and achievements (as a businessman and as a happily married husband and father) color his reconstruction of these events?

6. Unlike Lucy’s story, Noonan’s story is told in the third person. Is the change of voice a literary device, a way of adding variety to the novel, or does it serve another purpose? In what ways does it help to convey the basic difference between Lucy and Noonan and the way they see themselves and their place in the world? Compare the tone and language Russo uses in creating Lucy’s voice with the style he uses in his portraits of Noonan. What aspects of Noonan’s character and personality come to life in his conversations with his art dealer and his mistress [pp. 35–51]; his reactions to Lucy’s missives [pp. 131–134] and to Mr. Berg’s class in high school [pp. 310–314]; and, ultimately, his thoughts and behavior on arriving in New York [pp. 500—508].

7. Lucy and Bobby [p. 130 and p. 141–142 respectively] attempt to explain why their lives—and Sarah’s—have turned out they way they have. Do you agree with Lucy that “To see a life back to front, as everyone begins to do in middle age, is to strip it of its mystery and wrap it in inevitability, drama’s enemy”? To what extent does Bobby share this view? Why does Bobby see himself as being in control of his life in a way that neither Sarah nor Lucy is? Is this a result of his background and the circumstances that forced him to prepare himself for a second act? From the evidence in the book, is it accurate to describe Lucy as a passive participant in life, and Bobby as a man who actively responds to events, rather than becoming a pawn—or a victim—of things beyond his control?

8. Tessa is the practical, steady member of the Lynch family. In what ways does her behavior reflect her own choices, needs, and desires, and in what ways are these determined by the time and place in which she lives? What qualities make her stand out, not only in Lucy’s eyes, but also within the community as a whole?

9. Does Lucy’s identification with his father distort his image of his mother and his understanding of her strengths and her weaknesses? Beyond her immediate anger, what drives her to tell Lucy, “I never wanted you to not to love your father. . . . I wanted you to love me. . . . Did it ever occur to you, even once during all those years, that you might have taken my side? That I might have needed a friend?” [p. 217]? Is this a valid criticism, or is Tessa herself responsible, either inadvertently or intentionally, for the differences between Lucy’s relationships with each parent?

10. Sarah comes from an unconventional family, especially in the context of Thomaston. Is her ability to deal with the eccentricities of her parents and the summer/winter living arrangements they established unusual? In what ways does she not only adapt to but also benefit from the very things that set her apart? Is her attraction to the Lynches in part a reaction to her dysfunctional family?

11. Are Mr. Berg’s obsessions—with perpetuating his image as a rebel, with the “great” book he is writing, and with his failed marriage—sympathetically drawn? What is the significance of the fact that he is Jewish? What biases, both good and bad, do the people of Thomaston (including Lucy) have about Jews and what impact does this have on Berg and his reputation within the community?

12. What role does her mother play in Sarah’s sense of self? What are the implications of her views on marriage [p.326]? Do they influence Sarah’s feelings about her own marriage and that of her in-laws? Why is Sarah drawn back to the home she shared with her mother when she faces a crisis in her relationship with Lucy [pp. 464–499]? What does she learn by revisiting the past?

13. What traits do Tessa and Sarah share? In what ways do their marriages mirror one another? Do you think either—or both—foolishly gave up their own dreams and desires, sacrificing a life of adventure and sexual passion for the love and security of a “good” man? Behind their apparent contentment, are there indications that they regret the choices they made?

14. The Bridge of Sighs in Venice connects the Doge Palace to an adjacent prison, and, as Lucy relates, “Crossing this bridge, the convicts—at least the ones without money or influence—came to understand that all hope was lost” [p. 320]. How does the historical function of the bridge, as well as the myths surrounding it, relate to characters’ lives? Why has Russo chosen it as the title of the novel?

15. Does the ending bring the various threads of the novel to a satisfactory conclusion? What would have happened if Lucy, Sarah, and Noonan had met again after so many years? In what ways are their memories and imaginings a more powerful—and truer—version of reality?

16. In an interview Russo said, “The future and the past are repeatedly getting mixed up in people’s minds. They think that which is gone is going to come back” (Powells.com). Which characters Bridge of Sighs are particularly prone to getting the past and the future mixed up? Do any of the characters fully escape this way of thinking?

17. Richard Russo has written about small towns throughout his career. What are some similarities between Bridge of Sighs and previous novels like Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool? In what ways does Bridge of Sighs enhance and expand the portrait of America that is so central to Russo’s writing?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 95 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(47)

4 Star

(26)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 95 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    AMAZING!

    This is my favorite Russo book! I loved the characters and the way they relate to each other. "Bridge of Sighs" is a beautiful read of real characters struggling to make sense of the world they live in. His characters try to make the best of the cards they are dealt. There are a number of themes running throughout the book, but for me the main one is the question of which path to take in life? Do we really choose which path to take? Is regret inevitable regardless of which path we take? There will always be problems to solve, no matter. This is real life. Witty. Insightful. Exciting. I just loved it!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2009

    Russo's story captured me, drew me in and made me feel at home at Ikey Lubin's.

    I loved this book. I hated to finish and leave behind characters that I had come to know and love. It brought back memories of my own childhood and the "characters" that inhabited that landscape. Russo has written eloquently about "telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," and also about the secrets we withhold, even from ourselves. It's a character driven novel that moves simultaneously between past and present, as do we all in our own lives. It's about understanding where we've been and making peace with that and welcoming with open arms who we've become and where we're going. Russo has painted a rich canvas that he invites you to step into. For me, it was hard to resist.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    Highly Recommended!

    A beautiful story! I was drawn to the characters as my own family members and hated to give them up when the story ended. I loved the bits of humor woven into the storyline and the consister reminder to love and accept people as they are (a principle we can apply in our own lives). I guess I can say I came away from reading this book feeling encouraged and better about life in general. The strong language in some parts kept me from giving it a five star rating.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2009

    A Wonderful Read

    Richard Russo never fails to tell a story which invites you into the lives of characters who make you laugh and cry. Well developed story line, little twists and turns, a book to enjoy on all levels.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2009

    Small Town America

    A complex and compelling story of Small Town America, told by Lou Lynch (Lucy) who, as the main character, is writing about his life. Throughout the story, which spans about 50 years, we meet Bobby, Sarah, Tessa, Dec, and many more family members and friends. Russo tells this tale with intelligence and detail and great insight into human behavior.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2009

    An absorbing and moving account of the emotional complexities of apparently ordinary lives.

    Richard Russo returns to the small, declining northeastern towns he customarily chronicles to reveal the moving and complex emotional lives of two generations of two apparently ordinary families. The situations in which he places his characters are neither highly dramatic nor unusual, but he freights them with feelings that are all the more intense for being so recognizable. The plot is complex and the switches between narrative foci and time frames make for some initial confusion, but as the story unfolds all is clarified. The characters are fully drawn and we are drawn to them, seeing in their dilemmas many of our own.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2008

    This book is like really good chocolate

    Reading Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo is like being handed a piece of really wonderful chocolate, it is to be savored. Like all of Russo's novels this book is about small town life. The characters are normal and deeply flawed at the same time. The are peaks and valleys in this novel to be sure, but the end result is the same. When you are finished with this story, the characters will stay with you for a long while.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2008

    So it's not Empire Falls ...

    But so what? Each book, within its covers, is its own individual and to make comparisons like some reviewers are doing here, seems unfair. Yes, another book about small town America and maybe we've seen these characters before because we simply recognize ourselves in them and let's face it, most readers read to escape from themselves and their lives. Even in this regard, one cannot fairly put this book aside as 'just another' ... Mr Russo with his amazing literary talent has spewed pages and pages full of a beautiful story through magnificent and eloquent prose so much so that even a very short sentence makes you stop and ponder. That's why I loved this work. Richard Russo is an absolutely extraordinary story teller and I could not put Bridge of Sighs down until the very end. Amazing! I'm giving Bridge of Sighs 5 stars.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2007

    I'm in love with it and did not want to finish it

    I procrastinated to a great extent reading the last 200 pages, because I was so reluctant to let it go. This is a beautiful novel. To me, it's the great american novel, I loved it soooo much! The writing is simply gorgeous. . . kept me completely enthralled. This book is a very important one and I wish I could get everyone I know to read it, I'll certainly give it my best shot! I have read everything Mr. Russo has written, and loved them all. I very eagerly awaited this one and was by no means whatsoever disappointed, in fact, it was better than I could hope for! Kudos to you Mr. Russo, you continue to amaze me with your talent.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2007

    Wonderful

    Wonderful in it's simplicity. How Russo tells a tale of family, friends, love and life with such depth... The town is Every Town, the people are Everyone and the themes are universal. But in his telling the story truly breathes. Loved the book...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

     

     

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2013

    I have enjoyed all of the Russo books, but this one seemed like

    I have enjoyed all of the Russo books, but this one seemed like a long journey that never led to anywhere. True, you can't beat the beauty of his writing, which is unmatched in my opinion. I, however, found the ending just didn't fulfill the over 600 pages to get there. If you are entertained by reading about ordinary lives that stay ordinary (which I suppose is as most of us live), it may be a long and satisfying read . . .but, for me this seemed like a long journey that just ran out of gas.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Really enjoyed it!

    A beautifully written book about getting older, marriage, an everything in between.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    totally satisfying!

    What craftsmanship! So many characters living the present, while revealing their past. Not a story of dysfunctional personalities but rather ordinary personalities with both strengths and weaknesses.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Finally, I read a book by Russo

    Honestly, I have tried other books by this acclaimed author, but I could not get into them. For some reason, this one clicked for me. He is a good author; I read and reread some of his sentences, then read them out loud. I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I Loved This Novel

    I enjoyed 'Mystic Falls' very much but I loved 'Bridge of Sighs.' My favorite novels have believable characters that seem like people you know but the writing offers exceptional insight about their lives. This novel is all about what you have and haven't done with your life and then living with the consequences. I read this novel several months ago but I think about its message often. There are so many passsages that state so eloquently thoughts I could never express as well myself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Sighing over What Was

    Russo has spun an amazing story, one with twists and turns between the present and the past. While it takes a while to make connections, especially between the plot and the title, the finely woven sub-plots all come together to transport the reader over the Bridge. The cover, dove-tailing two distinct photos, is a link to the characters' sighs, reminding us that despite how much we want or try, our past is forever bridged to our present.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I Still Don't Know Whether or Not I Liked This Book

    It is a rare book that can leave me unsure about whether or not I liked it. The style was quite accessible, yet disjointed. The characters were generally likable, yet showed little development over the course of 500 pages. The plot was generally unclear as the author jumped back and forth between characters, flashbacks, and references to events that may have already been covered, may yet be covered, and may not be genuinely discussed at all. The book contains some profanity and racial slurs. It was certainly not a stinker of a book, but I expected something more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved with Reservations

    This is the first book of Richard Russo that I have read. I heard rave reviews from people that I share an interest in books I had high expectations. To tell the truth I started to read back in fall but could not get into the book. I put it down with the thought that it was just me and not the best time to start a new book. Sure enough ...I picked it up again two weeks ago and could not put it down. I loved the characters and the slow build. It was like a John Irving character similar to Owen Meany. The period it covered closely mirrored parts of my childhood and adulthood. I did become immersed in the family and the drama and heartache. Just when I was ready to deal with the story coming to some conclusions....it didn't. Very poor ending given how much you invest. Never saw it coming an so completely not believable. I just kept thinking "he doesn't know how to end this". Thankfully in the last few pages he takes a leap and somewhat ends it but too late for me. I would give him another chance though because I do like his writing style.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyable Book

    While I enjoyed this book and the writer's style of writing, I thought
    it was just too long and in some parts thought it was tedious. I
    could relate to the characters, however, as I remember many of them
    from my preteen and teen years.

    Overall, I enjoyed the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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