Bridge of Sighs
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Amazon Significant Seven, November 2007: Richard Russo's first book since the Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs is a typically stunning portrait of three small town families struggling--like the town itself--to strike a balance between obsessively embracing their own history or shunning it entirely, with devastating consequences along both paths. Bridge of Sighs is pure Russo: funny, heartbreaking, and ringing completely true. --Jon Foro




Louis Charles Lynch (also known as Lucy) is sixty years old and has lived in Thomaston, New York, his entire life. He and Sarah, his wife of forty years, are about to embark on a vacation to Italy. Lucy's oldest friend, once a rival for his wife's affection, leads a life in Venice far removed from Thomaston. Perhaps for this reason Lucy is writing the story of his town, his family, and his own life that makes up this rich and mesmerizing novel, interspersed with that of the native son who left so long ago and has never looked back.

Bridge of Sighs, from the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls, is a moving novel about small-town America that expands Russo's widely heralded achievement in ways both familiar and astonishing.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Memory for the Long Term
    Well-written, wonderful turns of phrase, highly sensitive, a study in family system dynamics, characters with dimension and development, a joy, a memory for the long term. Eric Erickson Columbus, Indiana...more info
  • An interesting and thought provoking story.
    Richard Russo's "Bridge of Sighs" is the story of Lucy (Louis C.) Lynch, a young boy from a working class, upstate New York family. It encompasses three generations of the Lynch family, and the changes that transpire as each group ages and matures. It's about their financial hardships, relationship and friendship complications, trials and tribulations, psychological hurdles, and struggles to live and love.

    A mere smidgen into the novel I realized that Richard Russo had broken many of the rules that successful authors stress should be adhered to closely. I found that he often back-tracked the story, flirting constantly with a time-line that was as flexible as a rubberband. While many writing instructors demand of their students to `show don't tell', the story was loaded with pages of telling. Back-story elucidation, situation enlightenment, character thoughts, reflections, and opinions filled close to two-thirds of the books 530 pages. Actual present tense situations and dialog were sporadic and infrequent throughout.

    All that said, Russo made it work.

    The book is proof that an author can follow his heart and not pay any mind to formats or set plans, without worry of impending disaster or failure, and just write interesting prose done as one sees fit. His writing style and sentence structure were wonderful throughout, very well written in fact, making for an effortless read. Provocative and opinionated situations from one chapter to the next kept the story interesting and appealing. I grew to be well acquainted with the extremely vibrant and colorful characters within; those with flawed personalities, emotions, and human conflicts so true to the real world.

    "Bridge of Sighs" is about intricate and evolving relationships. It's a story of life and love, and the lengthy road people travel upon to get from one end of their existence to the other, just to find out in the end how short it all really was. It was a truly interesting and thought provoking story.


    ...more info
  • A splendid effort and I wonderful read
    When one starts to read and review modern Literature, one has to take many things into account. In Russo's latest he delivers a really smashing story in a most delightful, if not quirky and cumbersome, way. Without resorting to plot, for one should read this book if one has any affection for Russo, this novel is ripe for adapation to the screen. (With Paul Newman now gone, it will have to be determined how this process will evolve, but it will surely be made into a film soon.) Don't wait for that, for there are nuances and elements in this book that will never transfer to screen, and it is these that are som absorbing.

    Russo delivers far better on his depiction of small town mentalities and minds than any film can communicate. He has this wonderful "Winesburg, Ohio" ability to see through the pretense of small town life, yet he creates a certain universal quality in all of his characters with the use of this venue. I once read in an interview witht he Author that he describes his style as "identify theory". I.T explains how the characters become who they become, or in some cases, how they don't become anything else than what they are destined to be. This quality is in this text, more so than in "Empire Falls".

    When I read "Empire Falls", a book by the way I adore, I was quick to note that there was a certain Dickensesque way of his story telling. I couldn't help but notice in this current novel that he was more like Lee in her "Mockingbird..." method. We meet our main characters, and we confront the demons of adolsecence and small town life only to find how it has affected their adult lives.

    There is no urge to burn through this book to see what happens next. In fact, the reader often is left quite at ease with the path they and the characters are beset upon to follow, or look back upon. As you near the end of the book you become acutely aware that the story is coming to an end. As such, you read on with curiousity for the characters, for they have become your friends. Moreover, you re aware of the mortality of Russo's small up state town, his characters, child hood, blind faith, family loyalty, and life itself.

    Not a great many books deal with that aforementioned. It is truly worth your time....more info
  • Too much introspection
    Maybe I'm too much like Lucy's mother, but I believe some of these people just need to get on with life. There was way too much introspection and self analysis on the part of everyone. So many questions: "...who hasn't...been victimized and found himself imprisoned in this life?" "In what reality was his father a decent guy?" "Had she known in that instant of brutal loss whose comforting embrace and genuine kindness she wanted and needed?" Especially toward the end of the novel--long paragraphs filled with self-examining questions that almost seem like voice overs in a soap opera.

    That said, I did enjoy most of the book especially the first half. For a while it seemed like I was reading some sort of weird version of "Happy Days" with the Fonz (Bobby) and Richie (Lucy). I believe there is some food for thought here: Why do some stay where they are and be happily content while others can leave and never look back. However, I think this could have been told in about half the words and half of what I call "overdramatization" of some events. I loved "Empire Falls"; this just doesn't quite make it....more info
  • ugh sigh
    I totally agree with horrible depiction of women in this novel. I know the author is a man and therefore has no insight... but the only woman in that book who was real and intelligent was his mother, whom he loathed and tried to get the reader to loathe as well... I have a problem... when I begin a book, I have to finish it... I struggled through this book 'sighed' everytime i picked it up... This was my first Russo book and my last......more info
  • INDIVIDUAL MOMENTS THAT CREATE OUR DESTINY
    Ask what "Bridge of Sighs" is about and you're confronted with a myriad of potential answers. It's about life in a small town you say, or perhaps the pursuit of the American dream. Maybe it's really about realism versus idealism, or family dynamics, or the class, racial and economic division within a community. Truth be told it's about all of these, but ultimately it's a story of despair and unresolved emotional attachments.

    Richard Russo has liberally peppered his narrative with fascinating characters, and taken a perceptive look at the anxieties, doubts and situations experienced in youth that are the stone from which the identity of each character is carved. We have our protagonist Lou (Lucy) Lynch filled with na?ve idealism and ever present optimism, a trait that he inherited from his father. Tessa, his mother, is the unfaltering realist with a pragmatic approach to living life. Tommy Marconi (Noonan) - is a man Lucy considers to be his friend.....a man who uses his artistic talent as an outlet for his rage and for who control is a requisite for living.

    Other characters, wives, lovers, parents, sons, and friends are intricately woven through this multi-faceted story creating depth and adding dimension to a tale that, like Russo's Empire Falls, can barely be contained between the covers of this novel.

    Bridge of Sighs makes one unmistakable point----- we are all an amalgamation of the parental input, life experiences and insights that have brought us to a metaphorical bridge. We can choose to cross the proffered bridge or fall into the chasm of memories (some of which may be clouded by time and age)....more info
  • Astonishingly good, slowly paced, and filled with wit
    I have been a Russo fan since seeing the film adaptation of Nobody's Fool and going out and reading all of his novels. This is easily his best thus far in my opinion. I love the odd little moments where Lou definitively tells you that there is a world that is precisely like this world running parallel where all the things you wish to happen are happening, although it is realistic and not outlandish. People who have died are still alive there, although aging normally etc. It does play into the hands of the melancholy and cerebral, and I can say, rather redundantly, that Russo has his Dickensian moments. The most interesting thing about this novel for me is it's ability to force me to slow down and ponder like Lucy Lynch. I could not read this book quickly, no matter how I tried. It is a subtle touch, but it is a perfection, to manipulate the reader this way. It makes that world all the more real and all the more melancholy, yet still enjoyable. Yes, it's flawed, but so are emeralds and that adds to their value. This is a truly fantastic novel, the best American fiction I have read in the last ten years. Step into the labyrinth that is Thomaston and enjoy the sense of happy melancholy that Lucy Lynch lives with and shares. This truly is a masterful piece of literature....more info
  • Disappointment
    Russo's BRIDGE OF SIGHS was a huge disappointment. Having read all his other work, my expectations were pretty high. I was ready to be taken to places with people whose lives would be quirky and thought provoking. It just didn't happen. After Lucy grew-up the story just plain died. He should have and could have done so much more with what promised to be a great story. Maybe future efforts will find Russo back in action. ...more info
  • I know Thomaston
    Russo, as usual, is brilliant. This book has an odd additional meaning to me, as I grew up in a fading mill town in Connecticut named, you guessed it, Thomaston. This real Thomaston is in the boondocks in Connecticut, and was the home of the Seth Thomas clock factory for many years (hence the name). Seth Thomas moved south a long time ago, but the mill, and its ghosts, are of course still there....more info
  • There's no doubt it's a Russo
    I liked this book. Yes, it is wordy, but the words aren't wasted. Many times I find myself skipping ahead when my mind tells me the author was probably compelled to add galleys of text to 'fill out' the covers, but not with this book. Anytime I wanted to skip a paragraph, I was afraid I would miss something. Nothing important probably, but something I needed. And I think that's what Russo does so well, i.e, gives you what you need to understand the characters, even when we don't think we really need it to understand. I read a book or so a week. I feel few were truly worth my time. Then I discovered Richard Russo's books. Now I'm afraid I will always be comparing his novels to what I'm reading and be disappointed with the pages in front of me. The only criticism I have is with some of his sentence structure. Many times I catch myself going back and rereading a sentence wondering why he didn't just say it naturally instead of with such obvious correctness? The way he writes dialog is nothing short of masterful, yet he can get his words bundled into a ball of correctness sometimes that leaves me thinking an audible, "Huh?" Small criticism. He is in my mind a genius and I love his writing. I only have one of his books left to read and then I don't know what I will do. I guess I will just have to settle for less until he finishes another....more info
  • The stuff the families and friendships are made of...
    Richard Russo writes absorbing stories about families and friendships that just manage to not fall into the sentimental and sappy gutter...

    Can two boys who are so different in temperament and background, ever be good friends? The answer seems to be both `yes' and `no'. Through Lou C. (Lucy) Lynch's and Bobby Marconi's different perspectives of life in the small town of Thomaston in upstate New York, Russo shows us how it can be dangerous to be wholly innocent or bitterly cynical towards life, and also explores the irony of how people can change, and yet remain the same.

    Russo uses `Lucy' as a mouthpiece as he writes his memoir, and the story is told through his unreliable narrator who has never left the childhood sanctity of his hometown, as well as through a grown-up Bobby/ Robert, who may have escaped the horrors of his tainted childhood when he fled the country to become a painter, but who still succumbs to `night terrors' in Italy.

    The alternation between the past and present, as told by two separate narrators in separate cities can be confusing and even more so when Sarah, the love of both these boys, picks up the narrative thread in the final part of the novel, but Russo manages to anchor the story with Lucy finally.

    Not as `unputdownable' as the blurb promises, but nonetheless a good incisive look at characters that are believable and fallible enough to invite empathy from the reader
    ...more info
  • A beautiful work to many
    I'm the leader of a book discussion group, and while we often disagree about the merits of a book we've read, we're respectful of each other's opinions. And while someone else's take may not change your overall opinion of a book, it does often times at least convince you to look at it in different ways. As the saying goes, "no two people read the same book." I enjoy many of the reviews written by Amazon contributors, but the ones that only offer up insults or denigrate a book are the ones I don't even bother to read. Those reveal a lot more about the people who write them than the book itself. It's OK to give a book I love one star, just contribute some insight along with your attitude, and listen to what others have to say-you might actually learn something.
    I have always loved Richard Russo's work, for me he is the 21st Century John Steinbeck. "Bridge of Sighs" is a beautiful work-full of real characters struggling to make sense of the world they live in. Russo, like Steinbeck doesn't romanticize his characters or resort to sentimentality or pathos. They try to make the best of the cards they're dealt, whatever they may be, and both authors have affection and admiration for them. There are a number of themes running throughout the book, but for me the main theme is the question of which path to take in life? The exciting yet dangerous one, or the safe but unexciting one? Can both offer fullfillment and happiness? Do we really choose which path to take? Is regret inevitable regardless of which path we take? Russo's writing is descriptive yet spare, lyrical yet rarely showy. Where other books require a dictionary at hand to look up all the unusual words in use, Russo's language is straightforward yet resonates beautifully. It is an ambitious novel in the sense that it shifts time and place, sometimes in the same chapter, and challenges the reader to reevaluate characters that are not very sympathetic in the beginning. We humans are a complex bunch. There is the feel of middle-age reflection in "Bridge of Sighs," but in the end it says to me, it's never too late to start living....more info
  • Stunning
    'Lucy' Lynch looks back on his life in small town Thomaston. Like his father, Lucy is an innocent;an optimist adverse to change who sees the World the way he believes it is or should be. But life isn't that straight forward or simple.
    This is an epic of a novel,each moment brought to life with a narrative that truly absorbs you into Lucy's life. So much so you're kind of sad when the book ends.
    This works on many levels. On an achedemic level (pretentious?!) you can see Lucy and Lou Lynch representing the American dream (the novel is mainly set in the so called golden social eras of the 50's and 60's) and all that America can be,whereas Bobby and Sarahs father and Gabriel Mock are all the fault lines that lay under that illusion.Bobby and Mr Berg are the Cains to Lucy and Lou's Abels. This book floats so many ideas and images in your mind but never is anything removed from a good story.
    I used a free week to relax and absorb this book without any lengthy interuptions between sittings and reaped the benefits.I'll gladly spend another free week re reading this 5 star book....more info
  • first part good
    I enjoyed the first third or so of this book, finding it well written, a John Updike kind of narration, possibly an interesting coming of age story. Unfortunately, by the middle of the book, too much began to become repetitious and the characters tiresome, Lou junior boring, mother Tessa an annoying holier than thou type and Bobby the glorious high school hero. By the time Sarah began to narrate [narration and time frames change frequently], the book went rapidly downhill and the last 100 pages or so were downright silly and contrived. Editing would have helped as would a resolution to some of the major events in the story - was it Lou's mother on the bridge? what happened to Bobby's child? and his father? and did his mother sleep around too? how come Sarah's so normal coming from two loonies? how did Bobby become world famous Noonan? what is Lou looking for in his chronicle? what possessed Sarah and Bobby to hold onto the wisp of feeling for -what?- 40+years? I mean really. Did no one evolve in this story? This is my first Russo book and though I'd like to believe his other books are better, I'm reluctant for now to find out....more info
  • If it's by Richard Russo, it's got to be good
    Richard Russo is so good at developing characters and writing about their weaknesses and strengths. His books, in general, take a lot of characters and eventually they all end up connected one way or another. The way he ties everyone together is a lot of fun to watch unravel. There's usually a lot of humor and quick-witted dialogue. It's good stuff.

    I think what made this book a little different for me is that it seemed a bit more serious with some darker emotional undertones. But that's okay. There are some relationships and events in this book that are more serious, even heartbreaking. Don't get me wrong: not everything is heartbreaking. But I found that this was definitely more dramatic, with not as many laughs. That's not a bad thing, it's just a different focus.

    I loved the characters and the relationships. So why did I give this only four stars and not five? I feel like everything got wrapped up too quickly on the last 50 pages. There were a few things I felt needed more explanation or detail. In all fairness, don't all of us, once in a while, feel that way about certain novels we read? Bridge of Sighs is a complete book, though. I highly recommend this book. You can't go wrong with Richard Russo. He is brilliant. ...more info
  • Groans, not sighs!
    I did enjoy this book and liked the cast of characters. However, I found myself resenting Lucy Lynch. The way he keeps himself confined to the town and NEVER leaving; the way he kept Sarah from bigger and better things. Also, I didn't care much for Big Lou either. He too, seemed very weak and the way he pathetically chases Mr. Marconi around hoping to forge a friendship. Furthermore, am I supposed to even LIKE this Bobby Marconi/Noonan? All in all, I liked the story but just didn't like the characters. They don't seem to have any self-respect. It's too bad Lucy couldn't get up any gumption to so much as travel until he's over 60 years old. Personally, if I met these people in real life I wouldn't care for any of them. ...more info
  • Bridge of Sighs
    Russo re-establishes his place as the best American novelist writing today. Perhaps not quite as great as Empire Falls....more info
  • Richard Russo is in his own catagory: outstanding
    "Bridge of Sighs" is similar to most of Russo's other work in that his setting and characters are all loosely based on the Leatherstocking region of New York State; Victorian grandness during the time of Railroads and the Erie Canal but left to crumble into itself, towns and people alike, in the late 20th century and beyond., This book is no different in that regard, but Russo manages to grasp the plot line and combine the lives of three so that once again we have a novel that leaves us rich with emotion and a little bit sad for the reality of life and how it turns out, somewhat akin to a Stephen Sondheim musical. Just like a Sondheim lyric, russo creates passages of words that have power in their realism: when you're young, troubles come to you one at a time. When you're older, they come in battalions. And of course, Russo uses that particular sentence to help to define one of his character, a frightened painter who grew up in this small New York town but made a bold escape and settled in Venice, which is where we meet him at the start of the book. This novel is wonderful and is just as superbly crafted as every previous novel Richard Russo has written. "Empire Falls" won the Pulitzer Prize and deserved it. So does this one; so did "Nobody's Fool" and "Mohawk". The man is another John Irving, Shirley Jackson, Charles Dickens or Barbara Kingsolver. If you have not yet read any of his books, you must, and I recommend reading them in order. If you've read even one of his novels then you've read them all already and are probably halfway through Bridge of Sighs or, maybe, are on a waiting list at the public library. I was lucky enough to get an autographed copy and I can't help but feel as though I'm holding a piece of history as I read this fiction....more info
  • Always Worth Your Time
    I'll agree with many of the reviewers here that this novel is not Russo's best, with a gentle reminder that even his stumbles are more graceful than most of the writing that get's noticed.

    Everyone who keeps up with this writer has a favorite book. Personally, I still have a fondness for his earliest stuff, but have never been disappointed. I'd say this was a big step up from Empire Falls (I know a lot of you will disagree), but falls short of Nobody's Fool.

    Most of the characters are vividly alive here, with a few exceptions (the little black girl Kayla who appears near the close is an obvious example of the latter), the story is deep and wide enough to give the reader room to move in for the duration, but it's all a bit slacker than Russo's best work. One more round of editing, one or two subplots more carefully handled, and it would have been fantastic. Still, it's worth a reader's time, even in the occasional flat stretches. The depictions of Mr. Berg's Honors English class were wonderful, as were the carefully observed relationships between all the principals and their parents. The contrast between the various species of small-town Man was handled very convincingly as well, although Russo continues to write men more effectively than women, I think.

    If you're reading Russo for the first time, you might want to start with Nobody's Fool, or the earlier Mohawk or Risk Pool, but for those of you already won over by this writer, Bridge of Sighs should go straight into your shopping cart. Go ahead. Hit the button......more info
  • Good Slice of life novel
    This is another great Richard Russo novel, so of course it is filled with family dynamics. Interesting characters are well developed. Introspective and indirectly philosophical. Enjoyable to read and with enough substance to stay with you for a while.
    ...more info
  • A Well Written Plod
    A moody memory piece threaded with melancholy, Richard Russo's latest is ultimately a very good, enjoyable book, but one that never quite rises to the brilliance of his previous books. Lou C Lynch, whose name because of an unfortunate first day of school mishap, quickly morphs into Lucy, is our narrator and guide to the small upstate New York town of Thomaston. There isn't much that happens in this town which has it's divides both racial and economic, but as Lucy looks back, the story quickly becomes the age old love triangle between himself, his best friend, the tough street wise Bobby Marconi, and Sarah, the girl they're both in love with. I did enjoy the book, but I have to admit I found myself in no rush to finish it. It was if the sleepy town and Lucy had seduced me and I'd just stay in it forever. And that was the novel's biggest flaw. I found myself much more interested in Bobby's story and Sarah as well, who all get their time in the pages as the narrative shifts both in point of view and in time. Here was a protagonist that I felt frustrated by at his lack of true desire to anything except his town, and that his greatest ambition seemed to be to run his father's corner store and marry the girl of his dreams. All this doesn't mean I didn't like the book, I did. It just took patience, and like the secondary characters I wanted it to compel me more....more info
  • What's It All About?
    It makes little sense to criticize a book because, well, you didn't like the characters - they weren't your cup of tea. But if, within the context of the story, they hold their own and you can recognize them and understand what they were doing, without the aid of author "coincidences" and author "introspections", then the book and they have meaning. I guess that's what's missing in this book. I kept asking myself, "what's it all about?" Over and over again we get something happening, like a fight between teenagers, and it assumes epic proportions for the people in the book, in their lives, but not so with me, as a reader. And, I, for one, kind of doubt that the author really cares. The only upbeat chapter in the book was about an eccentric English honors school teacher who tricks his students into thinking about words, their meaning and, of course, life in general. But he's given no stature. Maybe that was the whole premise of the book and I missed it. Which is OK but I couldn't reread this book in 100 years. ...more info
  • Russo's vivid characters inspire affection and exasperation
    The author of 'Empire Falls' again brings townspeople in upstate New York to life. This book centers around Lou C. Lynch Jr, whom most people call Lucy, and his parents, his childhood, and his middle aged adult life. The book's plot stems from Lucy writing his own biography, but the past and present overlap quite nicely, in a skilled exploration of how childhood shapes adulthood and how actions reverberate through time. There are chapters interwoven into Lucy's narrative that fill us in on the present life of the boy Lucy called his best friend in childhood (Bobby Marconi) - a child with a painful family situation who may or may not have been, in fact, young Lucy's friend. Bobby's life diverged in anger from his friends and the sleepy town they grew up in when he fled to Italy and made his fame as an international artist. Lucy and Bobby/Noonan both fell for the same girl, a girl who ultimately chose life with the Lynches over the more "dangerous" appeal of the boy who fled. The long-ago romance triangle exerts a force well into the present day narrative, and Lucy's insecurity, even after so many years, fuels a penultimate plot movement that doesn't quite satisfy the reader. Aside from that misstep into action that doesn't add much to the book, Russo's characters and evocation of life and choices are thoughtful and engaging. ...more info
  • Solid but not exemplary
    This is the second book by Russo that I've read and I was a tad disappointed. Then again, this comes after reading Empire Falls, which was one of the most remarkable works of fiction that I have encountered in the last twenty years.

    Bridge of Sighs creates a vivid picture of life in a decaying town over multiple generations while weaving a web of interpersonal relationships filled with regret, longing and hope. However, the feeling I came away with was of viewing a complex painting rather than reading a novel. Perhaps that was Russo's aim, a possibility given that the central metaphors of the book are Sarah's drawings of Lou's store and that Bobby is a world-famous painter, but I found the narrative a bit plodding. Russo's writing overcomes much of this plot inertia. There are a few key plot points--Lucy's getting stuffed in the trunk chief among them--but the book really is more about character and place. With the exception of Bobby Marconi (Noonan), the characters are not all that interesting and the place is one we've visited before (Empire Falls), making these foundational elements insufficient to render this a five-star read....more info
  • Disappointing
    Like others on this site, I agree that Bridge of Sighs would have benefitted greatly from extensive editing. My issue with the book is not so much that "nothing happens" (which can still make for gorgeous writing), but that its prose unrolls so unelegantly. Also, the last 100 pages or so ties up loose-end after loose-end in an amatuerish fashion unworthy of this author. The shifts in narrative perspective (from Lou to Bobby to Sarah,from present to past) felt forced and wooden. Disappointing. ...more info
  • Disappointed
    Russo is one of my favorite writers--he pulls me right into his characters, who are generally very interesting. My disappointment usually comes because a Russo book has ended. However, my disappointment in Bridge of Sighs dealt with it's rather ponderous, plodding pace, and the feeling that the author tried very hard to make it work, but just didn't quite get there. It is a lovely big book, one that lasts a while--no large fonts and big spacing here, and I had hoped to enjoy going back to it each evening. If you've read Straight Man, you may understand my thoughts. If not, now there's a book!!!! ...more info
  • It is all about the characters
    I say it every time I read a Richard Russo, his character development is just amazing. I feel like I know these fictional people. They could pop out from around the corner while I am walking down the street. As usual he traps these characters in a small town where there looks like there is no hope for a bright future. Russo pulls you into the town just like it is one of his characters. After establishing his characters and small town, then Russo builds emotional and character conflicts that could happen anywhere, but because you now have a special interest in the characters the conflicts weigh heavier on you. It matters if the characters resolve their problems. It matters if they are stuck and can never get out of horrible situations. Overall, I think this has been one of my favorite of Russo's books....more info
  • Bridge of Sighs
    Bridge of Sighs: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries)
    Once again Richard Russo works his magic here, creating a world and peopling it with characters who are so alive that it's sometimes painful to feel what they are feeling. More melancholy than "Nobody's Fool" or "Empire Falls," but worth every minute....more info
  • fantastic book
    one of the best pieces of fiction i read this year. russo remains master of character development....more info
  • Great characterization, surprise ending;-)
    First, I'm a fan. Loved Empire Falls! Similarly, I was immediately pulled into this book, as was my sister, who picked my library book up on a whim. He is so very good at drawing his characters, flawed but somehow so human and forgivable. How could you not hope that Sarah would choose Lucy, even if Bobby could be a diamond in the rough? Interesting that, the Beverly women aside, the female characters seemed so omniscient. So yes, Russo again shows us his brilliance in writing small town America. I was, however, left with a mildly disappointed feeling -- maybe it was some of the things other readers here have pointed out: the tidying up of loose ends, the stereotypical black characters (and Jewish!), the gap in Noonan's history. I don't know. What I do know is that I could not put this book down! ...more info
  • Splendid !
    To me, this is one of Richard Russo's most beautifully written books. I gave this book to three friends this Christmas. He reminded me of Pat Conroy's writing which is an extreme compliment for me to give to a writer. Those who truly enjoy lovely prose will want this book. Jackie in Atlanta....more info
  • Not satisfied
    I ordered a book in January that was supposed to be here no later than Feb. 17. It never arrived - the person selling it did send an email saying the book was returned due to incorrect address so it was resent. I never received it. I have been told that I would be credited so I'll have to wait until my next bill comes to see if that is true. This has made me not want to order any more books. ...more info
  • Loved this book!
    This novel follows several characters from school-age to age 60 plus. It even gives the backstory of their parents, while following a generation growing up in a small, mostly working-class New York factory town. The factory provides a living for many even while taking lives as it pollutes the water. The story is told primarily through the eyes of Lou, who has married his high-school sweetheart and remained in the town where he grew up. The story is also told through the eyes of Lou's friend Bobby. Bobby left the town at age 18 after almost killing his bully of a father and eventually became a famous artist living in Italy. He has never stopped loving the girl Lou married.

    The book is about people who work hard for better lives, people who lose jobs to progress, people who ignore real-life families in pursuit of impossible dreams, men who drink too much, childhood bullies and men who bully the wife and children, people who are realists and people who see the good in everybody and always expect even the bad to work out for the good, people who abandon their family and people to whom family is everything. In other words, it's about regular everyday people, Russo's specialty.

    I love Russo's stories and character development and this is his best book yet. His everyman stories are more relavant than ever in these economic times when it seems the working people and the small towns face so much hardship because of the greed of those who have managed the factories and control the money....more info
  • Slogging through mud.
    This book is a drudge to read. I struggled through 150 pages before I couldn't take it anymore. What a snooze. Small town life that never seems to change and that's the way this story progresses as well. I kept hoping it would pick up but it apparently ends as pointlessly as it begins. I gave it one more star than it earned for the details that are intricate in their endless droning....more info
  • Good work from a master of the craft
    Richard Russo needs no introduction to denizens of the world of literary fiction. Even before winning the Pulitzer for "Empire Falls", he was recognized as one of the best fiction writers around, and "Bridge of Sighs" should in no way diminish that reputation, though it is not his best work.

    In saying that it's good but not his best, I don't mean to damn with faint praise. I was privileged once to have a seat low and directly behind home plate as the Royals played the Orioles in Baltimore--this was in the old Memorial Stadium, not Camden Yards. George Brett was in his prime, and I looked forward to watching his at-bats closely. It proved to be quite an education. Brett came to plate four or five times that day. In all of those at bats combined, there were probably three or maybe four pitches that came across the plate in the strike zone. Low and away and high and inside were the two themes of the Baltimore pitchers that day. Brett, as I recall, had two singles and a double. And although it was clearly a good hitting day for him, it wasn't his best; but I got to see a master at work, producing something worth seeing. That is what Russo has given us here.

    If there is anything about Russo's efforts that I find disappointing, it is his seeming inability to escape upstate New York, or at least the Northeast, in his work. But when he is within that zone, he is magnificent, telling us about the people there and how their lives unwind in front of themselves and us.

    Satisfaction, or the lack thereof, love--or the lack thereof, and the failures of people to be able to recognize the opportunities for each they might have, are the base chords of the novel. How and why we get along, or don't, is the melody line, spiced with twists on sex, race, age, money, and class.

    The book could have been significantly improved by some more selective pruning and tightening by a good editor, but it's easy to see why most might have been reluctant to be assertive with the delete key. Is it not possible, after all, that the master knows better? Unfortunately, this does leave some bits that are clumsier than their surroundings or that get stuck in low gear climbing a hill. But the trip is worth the effort, as we get to see real lives mixed up, then sorted out, and lived on the page.

    If you enjoy this one, and haven't read any of Russo's other works, I'd suggest picking up some of his previous works as well, especially "Nobody's Fool", "The Risk Pool", and, of course, "Empire Falls". For a slightly more offbeat and incredibly hilarious take on life in small-time academia, read "Straight Man". All are extremely enjoyable and well-crafted works by a master of modern fiction....more info