Friday, April 10, 2009

Book Review: Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

Last night my book club, Chapter Chat (Hi ladies, I know you're reading!),
met to discuss Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo. We were all pretty much in agreement that this was a very well-written, 528 page book about... nothing much. Yet, we discussed the book for a full hour! Go figure!

Bridge of Sighs tells the story of three friends who grew up in a small town in upstate New York. Louis (Lucy) Lynch and his wife Sarah met in high school, married and stayed in Thomaston, NY. Much of the book is told from 60 year old Lucy's point-of-view, as he writes his memoir. Lucy and Sarah's story is juxtaposed against the story of their childhood friend, Noonan, who is a famous painter now living in Italy. The complex friendship between Noonan, Lucy and Sarah is one reason that Lucy has undertaken the writing of his memoir.

This was the most curious book for me. I am still not able to figure out exactly why I felt compelled to finished it. Unless I'm reading a book for book club, I do not finish books that bore me or don't grab me within the first 50-75 pages. And this book did not grab me. Of course it was a book club book, but I would have finished it even if it wasn't. And that is why I'm confused about this book. It definitely was extremely well-written. Richard Russo definitely has a way with language. But, the story itself was very mundane and bland. So, why did I want to finish it? That is the $64,000 question. It could be because there were seeds planted throughout the book that led me to believe something momentous was going to happen. But, nothing ever did. Like I said, I just can't figure it out. Everyone else in the book club felt pretty much the same, but we were still able to have a great discussion about the characters and the story (such as it was). So, I guess you can't ask for more than that from a book club book, right? But, will I read any more of Richard Russo's books? Nope. One was a enough for me.

Have any of you read Bridge of Sighs or Russo's Pulitzer Prize winner, Empire Falls? Or any of this other books, for that matter? What did you think? I'd love to hear your opinions. And if someone can explain why I liked this book, even though I didn't really like it, I would be forever grateful.


Tammy Howard said...

I have not, nor shall I be - life is too short to read dull books - especially when there are so many good ones out there!!!

Thanks for the heads up!

Pam said...

Hi Tammy - I agree. "Too many books, too little time".

Joanie M said...

I have this book on my list of to-be-read books in my bedroom armoir (along with about 30 others.) I think I might make this the next print book I read. (I listen to audio books when I drive more than 30 minutes at a time and I recently got a Kindle as a gift)


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