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Publisher's Summary

Six years after the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls, Richard Russo returns with a novel that expands even further his widely heralded achievement.

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.

Critic Reviews

"Largehearted, vividly populated and filled with life from America's recent, still vanishing past." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Story

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Top 10 favorite books

This is a story that I thought I had read before but I hadn't. The characters are beautifully written. The place and time is relatable but unknown. I fell in love with every flaw and every goodness. Would love to re-read many times over.

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One sentence review.

A very long story of non memorable people doing ordinary things in a small town.

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Slow place

I loved the book. I got used to the narrator. Not the worst I've heard -- his tone is fine, not annoying, but he speaks soooo slooowly. As I say, I did finally get used to it but it took quite awhile. That said, just loved this book.

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Depressing tale of lives wasted

Would you recommend Bridge of Sighs to your friends? Why or why not?

Not as a first book. The story is too depressing. "Nobody's Fool" and "Empire Falls" had similar stories but at least some of the characters had somewhat uplifting lives. And "Straight Man" was funny and poignant.

Any additional comments?

I really like Richard Russo, grew up in upstate NY and can relate to the characters in his stories. But, the characters and story in "Bridge of Sighs" are just too depressing. In the end, Bobby dies just like the Doctor in Dr. Zhivago, and Bobby is the only one to live a life with some vigor and hope. Some people escape the small town to see the rest of the world.

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Not his best, but still better than 90% of ...

What made the experience of listening to Bridge of Sighs the most enjoyable?

Richard Russo wrote it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Bridge of Sighs?

The trauma to a young boy at the hand of bullies.

What aspect of Arthur Morey’s performance would you have changed?

A bit more dynamic, but not necessary when reading Russo.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. Twenty something hours is a bit much for one sitting.

Any additional comments?

Not as good as Nobody's Fool or That Old Cape Magic, but it's Richard Russo and I just love his writing. This had some plot points, especially at the end, that I couldn't buy - just didn't fit with the stories that had preceded the ending bits. Uncharacteristically unconvincing 2-dimensional characters, but they were just a couple of bit parts thrown in at the end. I think the book would have been better without them, but the book still has hundreds and hundreds of pages of his lush prose.

The other weakness of this book compared to his previous works that I've read is that this one is really light in the humor department. He has some wacky moments, but basically this is a much more somber work than the others I've read.

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Captivating from beginnng to end

What made the experience of listening to Bridge of Sighs the most enjoyable?

The story unfolds slowly; the characters grow on you like family. Russo's prose is beautiful, his characters painfully realistic, the plot never forced. The events are inevitable yet surprising.

Who was your favorite character and why?

It's hard not to have affection for Lucy and his father, Big Lou. But ultimately, Sarah and Bobby/Noonan are the lens through which the listener comes to really appreciate the intricacies of the Lynch family and the town of Thomaston.

What does Arthur Morey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Arthur Morey's narration is wonderfully nuanced; his characters distinguished by tone and tempo rather than overt attempts to dramatize. The warmth of his style is a perfect match to the narrative.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, I was happy that its length kept me listening for several days.

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Loved it

Loved the book, loved the narration.

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Best of Richard Russo's Writings

My favorite Russo books in this order-
1. Straight Man
2. Nobody's Fool
3. Empire Falls

but now Bridge of Sighs takes the lead. It took me about 3 chapters to really get into the groove of it. But by the end I was sad to leave. Fantastic character development and the story was breathtaking. His best work so far.

  • Overall
  • Tom
  • Stillwater , OK, USA
  • 12-17-09

Uneven

Russo goes for serious in this one.Perhaps he's deliberately trying to break out of a pattern, but he deliberately makes the main character so dreary that he's hard to like. Without the usual humor, the plot seems more contrived.

  • Overall

Bridge of Sighs

Richard Russo immediately takes you into the small town of Thomaston, making you part of the lives of many of the cahracters. The interplay of the past/present thinking of the characters is interesting (although sometimes confusing). The lives of Lucy(Lou), Sarah and Bobby become intertwined and forever change each other. The story has elements of betrayal and coming of age that resonate with most people. Russos ability to use description is wonderful and really allows you to become involved. It was a worthwhile read, though could have been a bit shorter with the same impact.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful