Louis Charles ("Lucy") Lynch has spent all of his 60 years in upstate Thomaston, New York, married to the same woman, Sarah, for 40 of them, with 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.
©2007 Richard Russo; (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Largehearted, vividly populated and filled with life from America's recent, still vanishing past." (Publishers Weekly)
I am a huge Russo fan (Nobody's Fool and Straight Man are two all-time favorites, and Empire Falls deserved its Pulitzer) ... but Bridge of Sighs is ponderous. I wish I could blame the narration but the reader (Morey) is not the problem.
Russo's special gift is characters who are real and multi-dimensional, and the deft way he reveals them. They combine lovable and hateful traits. This never seems like inconsistency, but like the natural complexity we find in real people when we get to know them.
Another Russo gift is dead-on humor. It emerges from wry dialogue and description that is captured so perfectly, you can't help but smile or laugh in recognition.
Alas, both gifts are missing here. Characters are assigned personality types, and even after 27 hours of audio time, they stay typecast. There is a World Famous Artist Living Out His Anger Abroad, and a Small Town Worshipper of the Status Quo Who Stays Home, and each has the traits you’d expect and none you wouldn't. It feels as if Russo is trying to tell a Big Important Story, and foregoes rich, complex characters in favor of archetypes. And he seems to find little room for humor and wit in this Big Important Story.
If you haven't read Russo, you really should. He's great. Just don't sample him via Bridge of Sighs.
Small towns like Thomston may be dying, but Russo find the grace and dignity in those deaths. Far from maudlin, a story of decay becomes a story of triumph.
I have read (or listened to) most of Richard Russo's novels, and I would have to rate this as my least favorite. While many of his books feature quite hapless protaganists, Bridge of Sighs seems little more than an extended character study. One is left with sense that you are waiting for book to begin, but it never does. Perhaps the greatest disapointment is I found the book almost devoid of humor, and his attempts in this direction seemed forced and contrived.
I just love a good drama. Have you ever seen Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf with Elizabeth Taylor. It is one of my favirite movies. Two hours of film, one night of time elapses, the movie barely leaves one room, and the dialogue is incredible.
OK so now to this book. The book is one of thoes go nowhere stories. It is all about the lives of a few characters. We are taken into their past to explain their present. After so many hour of listening we should be totally enveloped in their phycosis. But I was not.
The book just fell flat. It never quite made me squirm or feel for any one of them.
The only character that intrigued me was Bobby, a kinda "sex on a stick" guy, someone that everyone is drawn to with equal and intimate desire.
And even with Bobby there was just no real finish. Ya know what I mean?
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