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The Bridges of Madison County Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446364495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446364492
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (563 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson's farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience of uncommon truth and stunning beauty that will haunt them forever. The romantic classic of the 1990's. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Quietly powerful and thoroughly credible, Waller's first novel (he previously wrote two books of essays) describes the profound love between a photographer and an Iowa farmer's wife who, together for only four days, never lose their feelings for each other. In August 1965, 52-year-old divorce Robert Kincaid packs his pickup truck and travels to Iowa's Madison County, the location of seven covered bridges he is to photograph for National Geographic . There, he asks directions of Francesca Johnson, alone at home while her husband and two children visit the Illinois State Fair. Initially, neither Robert nor Francesca expects their random encounter to lead to seduction, yet their mutual desire is undeniable. Waller tells their story as though it were nonfiction, claiming to have heard about Francesca from her children after her death, read her journals, seen Robert's relics of those four days and interviewed a jazz musician who knew the photographer. Scenes between the lovers are movingly evoked and moments with Francesca, who celebrates her birthday 22 years later by reflecting on her brief time with Robert, are particularly poignant. An erotic, bittersweet tale of lingering memories and forsaken possibilities. Photos of covered bridges serve as illustrations. 35,000 first printing.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

I read the book again, and cried, again.
I heard so much about the movie, before watching it, I wanted to read this book.
R. Prasanna Kumar
At no point in this book could I lose myself in the plot or the characters.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 67 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Gant on September 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you're a miserable cynic, you'll hate it. I am not a fiction reader. I am purely a lover of non-fiction. But a friend pleaded with me to read this book. When I finally broke down and picked up the book, I could not put it down. I finished it in about 5 hours.

People can say whatever they want about it being contrived romance, but this book puts you inside of what it feels like to be in a very intense romance that some (real) people really experience. I've been there, I know the anguish and intensity of the love this book describes. There really are people who love, speak and act this way.

People who don't get this book are bitter and angry that they can not concieve of such intense loving and living. If you love to love, and love an incredible quick read, this book is for you.

I wept for a good half hour when I finished this book despite myself. Enjoy!

-- A non-fiction loving, non-sap from New Jersey
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Vigil Swiger VINE VOICE on November 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A woman I know, along with an reviewer or two, couldn't comprehend how Francesca's boredom could lead her to betray her husband. Francesca was not bored, perhaps unsustained by her husband's lack of passion, but not bored. Bridges of Madison County hit the bestsellers list for years because just about everyone has parted ways with someone they loved, whether it lasted four days or ten years. True passion lives forever in the memory and can sustain for a lifetime. This story is beautiful, one of my favorites.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Chandi Perera on June 7, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
When a woman is deeply loved by a the man, that she is meant to be loved, bonding between the two will never end. Waller has sweetly, quietly, beautifully and in a normal daily way, captured this concept of love. Robert Kinkaid is not looking for one night stands, although he could have had a few. He is unique and special - so is Francesca Johnson - farmer's wife, mother of two and long ago from Naples. Bridges of Madison Country tells a beautiful story in a normal sort of a way. Love is woven into every day things - washing a cup, taking out the beer mugs, opening a brandy bottle or pulling out carrots for dinner. Love overpowers Francesca and everything she does for Robert becomes love. Guilt has no place in this sort of love. It is all consuming and all encompassing. A treasure to hold in anyone's library. Certainly in mine. Thank you Amazon.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jillian on July 26, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
'The Bridges of Madison County' is well worth the read. A wisp of smoke this one. Simple without being simplistic. I cried, and I've seen the movie! - I knew how it would end.

From the first lines I was captivated:

'There are songs that come free from the blue-eyed grass, from the dust of a thousand country roads. This is one of them.'

Such featherlight poetry! I didn't expect this at all when I signed up to read Bridges. I knew it would be a passionate, torrid affair that spanned four days. But the passion in the prose! The straightforward yet poetic nature of the story. A single, clashing love caught in four days?

Waller manages it, without slipping into `telling.' He weaves between the viewpoint of quiet, confident National Geographic writer-photographer Robert Kincaid as he arrives in the south Iowa countryside in 1965 in his old Chevrolet pick-up truck, and the bold but unremarkable farm-wife (and Italian war bride) Francesca Johnson, who falls deeply in love with Robert while her husband and children are away at the Iowa State Fair.

The Madison County setting with its rustic bridges adds to the romance in this novel. I remember hearing about it as a child, but in those days I believed `literature' meant boring. If the lit critics were raving over The Bridges of Madison County, and the women were swooning over it, it must either be stuffy or cheap.

Neither! So much life in this one. What I appreciated most about the novel was the gentleness with which Waller penned it. He could have gone high-drama and excessive romanticism. Instead he opted for sincerity in dialogue and quiet elegance. A true and honest love story told frankly, sensually, tragically. An intense affair coupled with tender conversation and honest emotion.
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50 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Maginot on January 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Robert J Waller botched his opportunity to make "The Bridges of Madison County" an interesting novel. The book contains fascinating themes of conflict including the struggle of choosing between passion and loyalty, and the difficulty of coming to terms with a mother's secret love affair. Unfortunately, rather than exploring these themes, Waller makes them the vehicle for a cardboard love story.
The hero, Robert Kinkaid might have been believable if Waller had endowed him with human qualities. Instead, Waller portrays him as a middle-aged superman: lover, artist, pacifist yet war hero, impoverished, yet glamorous, lovable but unavailable. His discourse is sometimes witty and often cheesy, but never quite believable. I know that Waller wanted to make Kinkaid engaging and appealing, but the resulting character is a two dimensional fantasy.
The Heroine Francesca is a bit more believable when she expresses her erotic feelings for Kinkaid and works through the dilemma over whether to run away with him or to dutifully remain with her husband. Unfortunately, Waller renders her character meaningless with vapid remarks about how Kinkaid should go on without her because she'll only cramp his style. The condescending manner in which she posthumously explains her love affair to her children comes across as artificial, and insulting.
I think the film version of "Bridges of Madison County" starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep succeeds where the book fails. Contrary to the book, Francesca angrily accuses Kinkaid of being selfish and egotistical-a flaw which he admits. Her objection and his subsequent admission provide the relationship with more dramatic tension and make it more believable.
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