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Bridge of Sighs Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 25, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 266 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Significant Seven, November 2007: Richard Russo's first book since the Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs is a typically stunning portrait of three small town families struggling--like the town itself--to strike a balance between obsessively embracing their own history or shunning it entirely, with devastating consequences along both paths. Bridge of Sighs is pure Russo: funny, heartbreaking, and ringing completely true. --Jon Foro

From Publishers Weekly

SignatureReviewed by Jeffrey FrankRichard Russo's portraits of smalltown life may be read not only as fine novels but as invaluable guides to the economic decline of the American Northeast. Russo was reared in Gloversville, N.Y. (which got its name from the gloves no longer manufactured there), and a lot of mid–20th-century Gloversville can be found in his earlier fiction (Mohawk; The Risk Pool). It reappears in Bridge of Sighs, Russo's splendid chronicle of life in the hollowed-out town of Thomaston, N.Y., where a tannery's runoff is slowly spreading carcinogenic ruin.At the novel's center is Lou C. Lynch (his middle initial wins him the unfortunate, lasting nickname Lucy), but the narrative, which covers more than a half-century, also unfolds through the eyes of Lou's somewhat distant and tormented friend, Bobby Marconi, as well as Sarah Berg, a gifted artist who Lou marries and who loves Bobby, too. The lives of the Lynches, the Bergs and the Marconis intersect in various ways, few of them happy; each family has its share of woe. Lou's father, a genial milkman, is bound for obsolescence and leads his wife into a life of shopkeeping; Bobby's family is being damaged by an abusive father. Sarah moves between two parents: a schoolteacher father with grandiose literary dreams and a scandal in his past and a mother who lives in Long Island and leads a life that is far from exemplary. Russo weaves all of this together with great sureness, expertly planting clues—and explosives, too—knowing just when and how they will be discovered or detonate at the proper time. Incidents from youth—a savage beating, a misunderstood homosexual advance, a loveless seduction—have repercussions that last far into adulthood. Thomaston itself becomes a sort of extended family, whose unhappy members include the owners of the tannery who eventually face ruin.Bridge of Sighs is a melancholy book; the title refers to a painting that Bobby is making (he becomes a celebrated artist) and the Venetian landmark, but also to the sadness that pervades even the most contented lives. Lou, writing about himself and his dying, blue-collar town, thinks that the loss of a place isn't really so different from the loss of a person. Both disappear without permission, leaving the self diminished, in need of testimony and evidence. If there are false notes, they come with Russo's portrayal of African-Americans, who too often speak like stock characters: (Doan be given me that hairy eyeball like you doan believe, 'cause I know better, says one). But Russo has a deep and real understanding of stifled ambitions and the secrets people keep, sometimes forever. Bridge of Sighs, on every page, is largehearted, vividly populated and filled with life from America's recent, still vanishing past.Jeffrey Frank's books include The Columnist and Bad Publicity. His novel, Trudy Hopedale, was published in July by Simon & Schuster.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375414959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375414954
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (266 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rick Russo is the author of six previous novels and THE WHORE'S CHILD, a collection of stories. In 2002, he received the Pulitzer Prize for EMPIRE FALLS. He lives with his wife in Camden, Maine, and Boston.
Photo credit Elena Seibert

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I don't think that anyone could dispute that there are countless advantages to achieving literary success, but the flip side of that coin is that that there are disadvantages as well, some of which are born of those aforementioned perks. Winning a prestigious award like, say, the Pulitzer Prize, which Richard Russo did in 2002 for his previous novel, Empire Falls, gives an author freedom to explore the range of their talents without the interference of an editor. This is a blessing, no doubt, but can also be a hindrance for a writer like Russo, who has a tendency to get so caught up in his lush storytelling that it may come across as endless rambling to the casual reader. That he actually has a firm grasp on the plot no longer matters, because that impatient reader will already be lost to the story. And that's quite a shame when it comes to "Bridge of Sighs" since it's actually quite a good novel despite the fact that a good editor could have pruned some passages here and tightened a few plot-points there. The first hundred pages in particular are a little slow, but stick with it. Russo is one of the best storytellers in current fiction, and trusting him a little will be well worth the early effort.

After winning the Pulitzer Prize Russo took a gamble on a different format with a short story collection entitled The Whore's Child: Stories, which was an unfortunate misfire for him, an author who truly shines when he sticks to what he knows best, and in that regard "Sighs" is a glorious return to form.
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Format: Hardcover
After having this book on my shopping list, waiting for its release, I was excited when I opened the package to see the cover of Bridge of Sighs. I sat down immediately to begin this big book. Richard Russo KNOWS small towns, and how they work, and how the people interact and love and hate and exist. Empire Falls has intrigued me each of the times I have read it, and the movie is wonderful as well, being superbly cast.

Bridge of Sighs falls short. Way short. I put it back on the shelf twice, having given up on it. Yet, I kept wondering what happens when they all get to Italy, so I retrieved it and started in once again. Well, you who have read it know what happens so I won't divulge that here. Suffice it to say I was disappointed.

And bored. I hate to admit it but yes, I was bored by this book. This small town was somehow less relevant, and the relationships were all strained and unhappy. Weird, even. I was bored by the people and bored by their problems. I felt that conclusions about causation were wrong, and weakened the book.

I will always run right out and buy a Richard Russo book, but I hope next time I will be more richly rewarded.
3 Comments 67 of 74 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Russo once said: "When a favorite author of mine comes out with a new book, I always hope for two contradictory things: first, I hope it's like all the other books of his or hers that I love, and second, I hope he's not going to repeat himself. Sure, it's a paradox, but I suspect I'm not alone in my desires."

Bridge of Sighs is exactly that--a great book that'll feel both familiar and fresh to Russo readers. I'm a long-time fan of his books and Bridge of Sighs is everything I hoped it would be; it's also a book I'd press on anyone who hasn't read his previous work. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Richard Russo has not only become one of my favorite two authors (along with Pat Conroy), but the Bridge of Sighs is one of the best books that I've read this year. Russo is not as prolific as other authors, but his books are worth the wait.

The Bridge of Sighs is told in two voices--Louis C. Lynch (Lucy) and Robert Noonan.
The book starts with the boys as neighbors and elementary schoolmates in the dying fictional tannery town in upstate New York, Thomaston. Most of the story belongs to 60 year old Lucy, who is writing the story of his life. Lucy was never popular and while intelligent, he was more of a plodder. His best and only friend Bobby was brash, over-confident and a fighter. He would also disappear for periods of Lucy's life. During high school, Lucy and Bobby teamed up with Sarah Berg, who becomes Lucy's wife and also figures prominently in the story. Lucy comes from the most stable family, and their family grocery store, Ikey Lubin's, becomes a home for them all. "It was clear that she [Sarah] loved not only the Lynches but also Ikey Lubin's, as if the store satisfied some deep craving, and everything she could ever imagine was right there on the shelves."

While writing his life's story, Lucy and wife Sara are planning a trip to Venice. Lucy's childhood friend is now a famous artist living in this enchanting city. But Lucy does not like leaving Thomaston and his family suspects that he will do something to sabotage the trip. Little does anyone know the scars they all carry from childhood and how that baggage still affects their lives. Also, there are still unresolved issues between Lucy, Sarah and Bobby that need to be addressed.
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