Julie Orringer's astonishing first novel, eagerly awaited since the publication of her heralded best-selling short-story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, 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 Lvi, 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 Svign. As he falls into a complicated relationship with the letters 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 Andrass second summer in Paris, all of Europe erupts in a cataclysm of war.
From the small Hungarian town of Konyr to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the lonely chill of Andrass room on the rue des coles to the deep and enduring connection he discovers on the rue de Svign, 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 todays most vital and commanding young literary talents.
©2010 Julie Orringer (P)2010 Random House
"To bring an entire lost world....to vivid life between the covers of a novel is an accomplishment; to invest that world, and everyone who inhabits it, with a soul, as Julie Orringer does in The Invisible Bridge, takes something more like genius." (Michael Chabon)
“Profound love, familial bonds and the deepest of human loyalties play out against the backdrop of unimaginable cruelty. . . . A stunning first novel.” (Los Angeles Times)
“One of the best books of the year.” (Junot Diaz)
What a wonderfully insightful and human story. Unlike many books on the subject, this book in simply telling a story of life during an unlivable time.
It is a testament to Julie Orringer's writing skill that I could endure the what seemed like 100 hours of yammering. The narrator was one of the worst I've heard. He droned on in a portentious voice and seemed to have no ability to provide different personas for the individual characters. His pronunciation of French words, even to my tin ear, was painful. I think this is a book better read than heard.
Julie Orringer clearly has a love of words and a masterly hand for painting word pictures. It's also apparent that she's done a great deal of research into a lesser-known aspect of Holocaust history; i.e., what happened to Hungarian Jews. This aspect of the book is different and should have a particular appeal for anyone who has an interest in the social history of Europe during WW2.
I appreciated this story, but I wasn't fully drawn in. The main characters, Andras and Klara, seemed two-dimensional. In this lengthy novel, there was too much dwelling on their morose love affair for my taste. For no good reason, Andras often imagines that Klara has been unfaithful to him. His emotional immaturity makes Klara's love for him a little hard to believe in completely.
Several side characters tended to be more interesting. Andras's brother Tibor and his best friends, Mendel and Eli definitely fall into that category. I wish more of the book could have focused on them.
A truly successful novel should have some element of humor in it. Even in Holocaust literature, I've read many books that had that element. It's often bitter, dark humor, but humor nonetheless, that made those books rise above the rest of the genre. This book's plot plods on in its dour way from one event to the next, with only one exception. Andras and his friend Mendel collaborate to create three underground newspapers when they are on their various labor service assignments. The excerpts from these papers are satirical and clever, and bring the book to life in those pages.
Despite these criticisms, Julie Orringer's talent is obvious. She has a real work ethic, a love of language and I hope next time around she will present more vivid, compelling characters and tighter pacing. I will give her next novel a try.
I cannot recommend the audiobook, narrated by Arthur Morey. Morey's voice tends toward the monotone and his emphases and emotional content often seemed to me not to be what the auth
Excellent. First half seems a bit lengthy at the time and upon review but it is an excellent and chilling view of what people lived through at the time. Fascinating and gripping.
Member Since 2006!!
The first half of the story was a little too long for my taste; it could have been cut in half and wouldn’t have had any adverse effect on the story.
Boy goes to school in Paris, boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy wins girls back, girl freaks and splits, boy wins girls back… enough! What’s was the point!? The second half was more interesting by far; I felt that finally something was happening and the story was really starting!
I suspect the drawn out beginning was a trick; plunging us into the day to day minutia of their pre -war lives so that we’d care more about them and be more sympathetic to their struggle once war starts brewing in Europe and the events start “hitting home”.
Ultimately, I think the ruse was effective because I was totally engrossed by the second half.
Regarding the narration I completely agree with other posters: Incredible bastardisation of French and German - I can only surmise that the Hungarian was equally awful. This is really my top pet-peeve with Audio Books.
The story, htough the start wsa a bit slow.
I speak Hungerian and Hebrew. The Hebrew pronounciation was bearable however the Hungerian was catastrophy. Many words I could not figure out only after several times due to the mispronounciation.
No, It ws too long
The descriptions. I wanted to go to Budapest to see this book. Loved Budapest. Beautiful city, the Opera House is the most beautiful one in Europe, according to me. The synagog is beautiful also. It made the book come alive. Shoes Always the Danube is a sad memorial. Buda and Pest are lovely. I read it again on the flight. Very moving.
One of my favorites.
Great book about the world war era Paris and Budapest, as well as about the ravages of the nazi regime in Hungary.
Arthur Morey's narration is great, except when he tries to pronounce Hungarian words, where he fails epically. It would not have been a huge task to ask a native to help out. Also, he is inconsistent in this, pronouncing a word one way and 50 pages down, another way.
All in all, a very engrossing and enjoyable book.
This is a beautiful, poignant story which held my attention from beginning to end - with one big exception. The canvas is one which particularly interests me, having lived through some of it.
Everything. I'm a big fan of Mr. Morey, but this reading is a disaster. As someone who is multilingual, I was appalled at the numerous mis-pronunciations throughout the book. While some of these may have been intentional (though I doubt it), I cannot imagine why the publisher didn't choose a reader who is familiar with the various languages. I winced each time a word or a phrase was mis-pronounced, and this just took me right out of the story and into near apoplexy! Please, Mr. Morey, next time you are hired to read a book which contains words in another language, get some serious coaching from a professional. This one is a blot on your otherwise perfect landscape.
What's next from Ms. Orringer?
I've missed Andras Lvi and his loved ones since finishing the book. The history, of course, can be truly heart-breaking and I think I'll go 'cold turkey' on WWII for a while. I liked the narrator, Arthur Morey, very much!!
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