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

3.6 out of 5 stars 642 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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.
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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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (642 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jim and I read this book when it first came out, then we saw the movie. We have been to the house in Winterset, Iowa. Jim passed away unexpectedly June 04, 2012. On June 04, 2013 I'm taking the book, going to his grave and reading the book again with him.

This is a wonderful, true love story, the kind Jim and I had.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When a novel receives less than the full spectrum of star ratings - in this case - 60-70% five-star reviews and 30% one-stars - it's probably a remarkable read, one that has made the reader FEEL.

I read The Bridges of Madison County when it first came out, while I was still a student, and this is my first re-read. I was curious as to if its impact on me would be the same as when I was young and impressionable. Since then, I've finished my linguistic and literary studies, I work at a college, and I write books myself.

After I finished my re-read, I skimmed the reviews on Amazon. The negative reviews go in two main directions: 1) the story and the characters are not believable; 2) more specifically: how would any woman in a fabulous marriage like Francesca fall head over heels and make love to a man she'd only just met?

To 1) my response would be to quote from Los Angeles Times, June 20th, 1995:
"Susan Canby, the head librarian (of National Geographic, reviewer's insertion), went to her master index. The only Kincaid she found was a Don Kincaid who had done a story on ghost galleons in 1982. And never, since its founding in 1888 as a technical journal, had the National Geographic done a story on covered bridges--in Madison County, Iowa, or anywhere else.

The sad truth was that the Geographic's most famous photographer, Robert Kincaid--the subject of Robert James Waller's book "The Bridges of Madison County" and the character played by Clint Eastwood in a movie of the same name--didn't exist. The truth was so crushing to Kincaid's followers that many chose not to believe it.
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Format: Hardcover
A woman I know, along with an Amazon.com 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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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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