Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

The Bridges of Madison CountyWhen Francesca's husband and children leave for the county fair she looks forward to a quiet weekend alone but when a stranger stops at her house to ask for direction she finds love she didn't even hope for.

This is a wonderful novel about love and sacrifice and it was one of my most memorable reads of 2009. It's incredible really how such a small book can hold a story as deep as this with characters as real as these. There aren't grand adventures but the fact that it's set on a quaint farm makes it only better because it allows us to focus on the characters who deserve our full attention.
Let me tell you what was the first thing I did after I finished reading this book. I went straight to my computer and typed "Robert Kinkaid National Geographic" into my browser search window. I knew that Francesca was too obscure to yield any results but believed that he could be found and hoped to see a picture of a rugged man with eyes attentive to the beauty of the world around him, perhaps holding his camera. I cannot describe to you how disappointed I was when the only mention of Robert Kinkaid I could find was in relation to the book. I wished for him and Francesca to really exist because love such as theirs had to exist. And then I realized that of course they are real, that the fact that there isn't an actual Robert or Francesca somewhere doesn't mean that there aren't people just like them who love and make decisions that affect their lives forever.
The story unfolded as unhurriedly as only a hot weekend can and at the same time there was an urgency about it that comes from knowing that soon the perfect uninterrupted time they had together would be over and they would have to make a choice. I still remember that pivotal scene and can almost see it whenever I think about it. Robert isn't a knight in shining armor come to save the day, he's just a man in love with a woman who realizes that she is the only one for him but he has to let her make the decision for both of them. And Francesca isn't the badass heroine we're used to seeing nowadays who makes history or challenges convention but she is a woman who made an incredibly difficult decision and lived with it for the rest of her life. This book isn't really about "what happens", it's about the people.
If you're looking for a book with lots of action and epic heroes out to save the world this book isn't for you. It is for a reader who is looking for a story with quiet strength and characters who find that once-in-a-lifetime thing we all hope for and know that just like life it isn't perfect.

N. B. The giveaway for your choice of one of three great books is still running! Check it out here


  1. I had heard of this book and knew it was a 'classic', but didn't actually know what it was about. Thanks for the review :)

  2. I saw the film before reading the book and it rather spoilt it for me. But having read your review I feel inspired to try the book again.

  3. San and Barbra, you should definitely put this book on your lists. It is very good.
    I saw the movie back in high school and now whenever I think about Robert and Francesca I always see Clint and Meryl's faces :)