The Invisible Bridge

The Invisible Bridge

by Julie Orringer
4.1 451


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The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Julie Orringer’s astonishing first novel, eagerly awaited since the publication of her heralded best-selling short-story collection, How to Breathe Underwater (“fiercely beautiful”—The New York Times; “unbelievably good”—Monica Ali), is a grand love story set against the backdrop of Budapest and Paris, an epic tale of three brothers whose lives are ravaged by war, and the chronicle of one family’s struggle against the forces that threaten to annihilate it.

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de Sévigné. As he falls into a complicated relationship with the letter’s recipient, he becomes privy to a secret history that will alter the course of his own life. Meanwhile, as his elder brother takes up medical studies in Modena and their younger brother leaves school for the stage, Europe’s unfolding tragedy sends each of their lives into terrifying uncertainty. At the end of Andras’s second summer in Paris, all of Europe erupts in a cataclysm of war.

From the small Hungarian town of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the lonely chill of Andras’s room on the rue des Écoles to the deep and enduring connection he discovers on the rue de Sévigné, from the despair of Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labor camps and beyond, The Invisible Bridge tells the story of a love tested by disaster, of brothers whose bonds cannot be broken, of a family shattered and remade in history’s darkest hour, and of the dangerous power of art in a time of war.

Expertly crafted, magnificently written, emotionally haunting, and impossible to put down, The Invisible Bridge resoundingly confirms Julie Orringer’s place as one of today’s most vital and commanding young literary talents.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400034376
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/25/2011
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Pages: 784
Sales rank: 88,523
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Julie Orringer is the author of the award-winning short-story collection How to Breathe Underwater, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is the winner of The Paris Review’s Discovery Prize and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stanford University, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is researching a new novel.


Brooklyn, New York

Date of Birth:

June 12, 1973

Place of Birth:

Miami, Florida


B.A., Cornell University, 1994; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1996 Stanford University, Stegner Fellowship, 1999-2001

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The Invisible Bridge 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 451 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel takes place in Paris and Hungary between 1936 and the end of WW2. It is the story of two devoted Hungarian brothers, their families and friends, and the love of one of those brothers for an older woman. The story is full of suspense, grace, survival and sacrifice without the melodrama that often accompanies a novel with these themes. It is beautifully written and so well-researched that I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction. The novel had a sepia-toned feel and was haunting but uplifting. I think it will make an excellent book club choice; there is much to be discussed. I loved it and will recommend it to everyone I know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is a masterpiece. The characters are challenged again and again by circumstances beyond their control, yet they rise to the challenges and endure. The reader can't help but wonder - what would I do in that situation? What gives them the strength to go on? What strengths could I draw on in my life? These are realistic portrayals of people you would want to know - the friends you know well whom you really admire for their personal qualities and measure yourself against. Yet the heroes in this book are very human and not beyond frustration in the foibles of life. This book has some of the same qualities as Dr. Zhivago. It is at heart a love story set in a time of war and a celebration of human endurance under inhumane circumstances. It has the same level of quality writing and insight as demonstrated in that Russian masterpiece. I suspect "The Invisible Bridge" will enter school reading lists as essential reading, as it should.
rw More than 1 year ago
A scholarship to study architecture in Paris - a dream come true for a poor young Hungarian with a talent for drawing and an innovative vision. As you start reading The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer will lull you with her beautiful descriptions of Parisian streets, gardens, that you will feel you are there. But too soon, she reveals that Andras is Jewish and Europe is becoming Hitler's - changing everything and the real tale begins. The story moves slowly carrying you through the lives of three young brothers - intelligent men, with strong family ties, who start out in pre-war Hungary with potential. Andras, the middle brother, is the fulcrum. He begins his studies in Paris, succeeds in creating designs admired by his professors, helps his older brother, Tibor, get sponsorship for medical studies in Italy, and mentors his younger brother, Matyas, a talented artist/performer. He meets his true love, Klara, a ballerina and a fugitive from Hungary, living in Paris. Shifting gears into wartime, Orringer seasons her lengthy descriptions with astute observations - ".it made [Andras] aware of his own smallness in the world, his insignificance in the face of what might come." Her detailed understanding of Jewish customs instills credibility, and Orringer uses an effective technique to keep you engaged: she gives you the outcome, then backtracks to how it got there. As she explains, her lengthy and precise clarifications of architectural and military procedures mirror Melville's summation of whaling - you want to get on with the action, but are afraid you might miss something if you skip through. And, besides, the explanations are fascinating. Be prepared to read slowly. The terrors of war take over, but art and family help Andras survive. The title is taken from an illustration he draws for a comic-relief newsletter while trying to live through the horror in the camps. More than the filth and humiliation of the conscripted Jewish work-camps, it's the uncertainty and terror of the unknown that creeps in. Each short leave at home gives him new worries - Will his wife be safe? Will his brothers survive? Will anyone survive? This is a book you will not be able to bear to read at times, and then you will not want it to end - a haunting revelation of bittersweet anomalies - beautifully written. Orringer's grandfather lived through this time, and she has used him as her initial resource, but her research into Hungarian Jews and Hungary during the war is authentic and commanding.
kvetchingeditor More than 1 year ago
On my nook, I'm currently reading an amazing book called "The Invisible Bridge" by Julie Orringer. The problem is, I have a hard time putting it down, so it's on my bedside table, and I read it before going to bed each night, which actually has done wonders for helping to put me to sleep (can't say much for the staying asleep bit). It's a very fluid novel, save some of the parts that go into architectural mumbo jumbo that I just sort of breeze by. The focus of the novel is a Jewish gent from Budapest who heads to Paris for architectural school in pre-war times. He rallies around a group of Jewish fellows, falls for a mysterious woman with a scarred past, and eventually ends up back in Budapest (which is where I am now, and I still have a ton left to read, so I have no idea what's going to happen, so no worries about spoilers). The narrative and dialogue are brilliantly written, very period appropriate, and my only beef with the novel, as I said, is the random tangents on architectural stuff (also, sometimes the Jewishly peppered stuff seems forced). So, I know he's in architectural school and that the goings on at the Ecole d'Especial is very important, but the detail is a little obnoxious at times. I'm sort of mesmerized, however, with Orringer's attention to detail, and I'm really mystified as to where this novel is going, what with the war having started and me still having half the book left to read. The characters are so vivid, I feel like I'm walking the streets of Paris with them, eating at the same bars as them, and smelling the fresh bread they're purchasing. Pick this up, stat. (Note: I wrote this about 100 pages short of the end -- my sentiment stands: READ THIS STAT!)
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
BEST BOOK I'VE READ ALL YEAR! This has got to be the best love story I've read in a long time. the love that Andras and Klara had for each other and their family was unbelieveable. The cruelty and human suffering of war was something we should never forget or repeat ever again. I could not put this book down, oh and the ending brought happy tears to my eyes. This is one book I will not soon forget. I am also looking for Julie Orringer's next book, loved her writing.
huckfinn37 More than 1 year ago
The Invisible Bridge is great. I am not a big fan of Holocaust books. However, this book has something for everyone. It taught me much about France and Hungry's involvement in WWII. I want to visit France after reading this book. It will make you laugh and cry and the same time. Also, I learned a bit about architecture from the book. It shows readers that you must learn about both the good and the bad parts of your history. Also, it teaches that we must be tolerant of each other. There is also a lesson about redemption. I also loved this book because a friend of mine has a name that is close to one of the main characters names. My book club loved it. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book very much! Loved the characters and felt very much that I was involved in their lives. This book draws some very poignant conclusions about life, and human nature that make reading it very memorable. Its a love story, but if you look past that (if your not into them) , its a very good historical presentation of the time with more than the obvious message.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The character development takes quite awhile but is my no means boring, and quite necessary. It is imperative that we get to know the characters in order to feel what eventually happens to them. One of the best books ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Top 5 novels I've ever read. Just a wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the kind of book that you want to read forever and when it's done, you feel like you lost your best friend. It is beautifully written with such feeling and description that I felt like I was watching a movie. What's so amazing is that your heart breaks because you know what happened during WW2 and yet you are spared the horrid details, but still felt and lived what the characters went through. You will NOT forget this book!
contact_sport More than 1 year ago
It's an excellent tale of life and times in Hungary before and during World War II. It's a great love story and shows the true passion of people trying to survive and carry on their life against all odds.
Cather More than 1 year ago
Who edited this book? Or should I say, failed to edit it? It is foiled by its redundancies, but offers an interesting story with important insights into the Hungarian Jewish experience during Hitler's rise and the second World War. The writer has moments of brilliance, passages that take her from the mundane to the poetic. It should have been a much better read, and could have been with a serious tightening of the narrative and elimination of unnecessary repetitiveness. But it does add much to the holocaust literature now available, and is worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cared about the characters almost at once. The story rolled along, keeping my interest and luring me to continue turning the page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. Exceptionally well written and researched. The story will stay with you long after you finish the book. I am looking forward to more from this talented writer.
Olive615 More than 1 year ago
This was one of my favorite books ever. I love reading WWII novels, and this one tops all of the other ones I've read. I loved that it was so incredibly real. It started out having nothing to do with the war, and was mainly a story about a young guy finding his way in a new city and falling in love. Then the war began, and it turned into a completely different story. It went from super depressing to hopeful, and back to depressing about a million times. I liked that, because life can be that way sometimes, and reading a book about the war that is only dreadfully sad isn't as nice as a book with some hope and little happiness. I won't stop thinking about this book for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Invisible Bridge is a beautifully written novel full of descriptive detail. The characters are very real and draw you in and keep you going even when the brutality and horror of the events make you want to turn away. However, there was, in some places, almost too much detail and some plot lines seemed somewhat drawn out and unnecessary. When I finally finished the book (over 600 pages on the Nook!), I felt like I had lived a lifetime and was physically exhausted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was more and less than I expected. The details and situations made me want to find out more about the circumstances of the war. Being of Hungarian descent, but not a speaker of the language, I could identify with some of the foods and customs, but think an outsider might find the excess information cumbersome. I had difficulty accepting the connection of the two major characters, but the action held my attention and compelled me to keep reading until the end.
Emmy32 More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up on a whim and didn't expect much. I had never heard of it. I was so surprised by how well written, informative, and addictive it was. It's an epic story that spans years. I agree with others that this book is a masterpiece and one of the best novels I've read in a long time.
toothfairyln More than 1 year ago
I haven't finished the book yet. It is more than 600 pages. It is an interesting story taking place in Hungary Pre World War2 and the start of the War. I am looking foward to the next 200 pagesand finding out what happens to the main characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this was well written and a wonderful, heartbreaking and eye opening story. I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, reminds me of Angela's Ashes: making you smile on one page, then feeling your eyes fill with tears a few pages later - best book i have read in a long time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the love stories. However, I found most chapters to be redundant. The beginning to me drags on and on. But the history part was very good. Could have told the story in much less pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If nothing else it will make a person feel blessed for the day and age we live in... esp Americans.
lulu7798 More than 1 year ago
tremendously informative about the world war 2. the author really did outstanding research....could hardly put this book down. look forward to reading more books by this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book for the story and insight into the plight of Hungarian Jews, which most of us know little about. The characters and story were a little too romantic and idealized for me, but the overall book was very compelling.