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Recommended Fiction: Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

by Pamela Tarajcak on 2022-10-21T15:25:04-04:00 in Literary Criticisms and Reviews | 0 Comments

“They extract a promise: If I decide not to write the story, I must agree never to disclose what transpired in Madison County, Iowa, in 1965 or other related events that followed over the next twenty-four years.  All right, that’s reasonable. After all, it’s their story, not mine. 

“So I listen. I listen hard, and I ask hard questions. And they talk. On and on they talk. Carolyn cries openly at times. Michael struggles not to. They show me documents and magazine clippings and a set of journals written by their mother, Francesca.” (viii) 

Cover ArtThe Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
Call Number: FIC WALL (Steubenville)
ISBN: 9780446516525
Publication Date: 1992-04-13

Francesca is a lonely woman just on the cusp of middle age. She is living out a somewhat lonely and, unbeknownst to her, unfulfilled existence as a farmer’s wife in Iowa.  Originally from Italy, Francesca was a war bride who didn’t know that her marital home would be boring and the husband she has dutiful but not passionate.  Until Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer, enters her life.  He is doing a photo spread of the famous covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa and has lost his way to one located near Francesca’s home. Taciturn Kincaid has a very unmoored existence, used to constant travel, never growing close to others.   During one short stay, Kincaid and Francesca (who is alone in the house because her husband and children are away at the county fair) awaken passions in each other that are undeniable. 

This thin book, only coming in at under 200 pages, really packs in the punch.  Waller gives such beautiful descriptions of the setting that you really feel like you’re there.  Francesca and Robert are fleshed out to such beautiful levels that it’s impressive with how little page count this book has.  The story moves lyrically and slowly. This makes it perfect for late autumn.  It speaks to Waller’s talent as even though the book is short in length, it really packs in the punch for beautiful descriptions, fleshed out characters, poetic prose, and a slow but not lethargic pace.   

If you want everything above in a book, The Bridges of Madison County is for you.  If you want something that is passionate and heat filled, yet cozy for the oncoming winter, this book is for you.  If you don’t want a story about infidelity, though, this book may not be for you. 

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