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)
I'm usually sceptical when a book gets rave reviews from the professional critics, but this time they got it right. The Invisible Bridge is a phenomenal novel, quite old-fashioned, and devoid of literary gimmicks and clandestine intentions of the author to preach or moralize. In short, it is beautifully written in a classic prose style, through which Julie Orringer creates an atmosphere of both passion and gloom in an historical setting that, while generally well-known, focuses first on sinister pre-World War II Paris, and then moves to lesser known Hungary after WWII begins. Orringer creates characters with multiple frailties, like most people I know, but whose virtues are enough that ultimately I cared deeply about their fates. The short epilogue was as moving as anything I can remember reading. Call The Invisible Bridge a saga, an epic, a profoundly moving love story; take your pick.
For a long time, I hesitated to buy this book and changed my mind about the purchase several times after adding it to my wish list. At 28 hours, it is by far the longest audio book I've ever listened to and I didn't want to make a mistake. I was finally persuaded to give it a try by the high quality of the reader reviews on amazon.com from those who were captivated by the book. After a somewhat slow start, Orringer's beautiful prose, attention to detail, atmosphere of hope amid impending doom, brought me into the narrative in such depth that I listened to it for long hours at a time. This is a serious literary novel for a serious reader. Many books that I read tell good and interesting stories, but seldom rise to the ranks of literature. For me, The Invisible Bridge combines the best of both worlds: a captivating, fluid narrative, with a fine piece of writing.
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I have struggled with this book for hours upon hours of listening. The narration is so slow, fumbling and awkward that it has simply ruined the book for me. I don't speak German or Hungarian so I can't comment on those languages in the reading--other reviewers have found them equally terrible. However, I do speak French and the mispronunciations are painful. Even street and place names are a total jumble. I find myself trying to sort out the places and words and in doing so lose track of the plot. I agree with other reviewers that greater care should have been taken in finding a multilingual narrator.
I can only recommend the book to someone who does not speak French, German or Hungarian. That way the listener won't be aware of the glaring language issues in the narration. Very disappointing.
My mother lived through the German occupation as a little girl in Hungary. She has many quirks, fears and nerausies that never made any sense to me until I read this book. It was as though I was experiencing the endless suffering with the books characters followed by brief periods of hope for better times followed by more suffering and the continuing deteriation of the human condition year and year after year. Yet, I couldn't stop listening and continued to keep the hope alive myself as this author seemed to capture the essence of what it must have been like to live through such a horrible period in history. I must thank the author for helping me to understand this piece of my families history while apologize to my mother for never really understanding what she went through. Sorry mom!
A good book was ruined by the incredibly bad mis-pronunciation of French words by the reader. He obviously had NOT done his homework, and it was most distracting.
This book ranks amongst the best I have read or listened to so far. Unfortunately it is almost spoiled by the incapability of the narrator to correctly pronounce as much as one single hungarian or french name or phrase and the author uses quiet a few of them. This does bother me as I am capable of both languages but might not affect listeners who don`t speak the languages. However, the book itself - the story, the characters ... amazing read.
It is a testament to the strength of this book that I listened to all four downloads. The story is riveting, I learned a lot about Hungary before and during WWII and even though it's "another Holocaust" book, it's really, really good. However, the narration is awful. Mr. Morey's voice is a snooze fest. Worse yet, he mispronounces his Hebrew and German words and mangles some French ones...I don't know Hungarian so I can't comment there. It is a major pet peeve of mine when narrators don't take the time to ask someone who knows the language, how to pronounce the words - and Morey does this over and over again. This would have been a 10-star review with a different narrator.
I loved this book. I learned so much about Hungary. The country was ravaged by war and leaders. The stories of the Jewish traumas are so personal and poignant. Beautiful writing!
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.
Tell us about yourself!I am an avid reader but enjoy listening while waking to work, ironing, doing dishes, etc. Listening to novels is an entirely different experience than reading; a well narrated story is a cross between drama and written fiction. Listening to books on Audible has been a wonderful experience.
Overall good and complex story line with a view towards a part of WWII that I had little understanding of: Hungarian jews and the eastern front. Characters are well developed and deep.
He is an adequate reader but does a very poor job with French. His Hungarian sounded authentic but I am not Hungarian to know for sure.
Development in the first half of the novel took too long to unfold for my taste. The novel's considerable strength is in the 2nd half so the long 1st half dragged a bit for me.
Somehow, (I can't believe I missed it) the fact that this audio book runs almost 28 hours in length was not something I noticed when I purchased the book. As I always try to start what I finish, I did listen all the way to the end. It took almost 4+ hours for me to really be interested, and then the ending felt almost rushed - given that so much time and detail was spent on the earlier parts of the book. So, if you have 28 hours... be my guest.
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