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The Invisible Bridge Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 4, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 800 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2010: Even if this weren't her first novel, Julie Orringer's Invisible Bridge would be a marvelous achievement. Orringer possesses a rare talent that makes a 600-page story--which, we know, must descend into war and genocide--feel rivetingly readable, even at its grimmest. Building vivid worlds in effortless phrases, she immerses us in 1930s Budapest just as a young Hungarian Jew, Andras Lévi, departs for the École Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris. He hones his talent for design, works backstage in a theater, and allies with other Jewish students in defiance of rising Nazi influence. And then he meets Klara, a captivating Hungarian ballet instructor nine years his senior with a painful past and a willful teenage daughter. Against Klara's better judgment, love engulfs them, drowning out the rumblings of war for a time. But inevitably, Nazi aggression drives them back to Hungary, where life for the Jews goes from hardship to horror. As in Dr. Zhivago, these lovers can't escape history's merciless machinery, but love gives them the courage to endure. --Mari Malcolm

From Bookmarks Magazine

Given the novel's size and subject matter, critics can be forgiven for their initial skepticism over a 600-plus page book on the Holocaust--by a first-time novelist, no less. But they were very pleasantly surprised--astonished, even--at Orringer's beautifully rendered novel, which most believed, with its "sweep akin to that of Dr. Zhivago" (New York Times) and other classics, is destined to become a modern-day classic itself. Although one critic felt the novel could have used a more aggressive editor and others noted some overwrought language, most described The Invisible Bridge as a beautifully researched, old-fashioned love story, "the type Tolstoy might have scratched out with a gnawed pencil" (Onion AV Club). Four stars, or four-and-a-half stars? Only time will tell if we gave it a half too few.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400041163
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400041169
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (800 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Bryan Newman VINE VOICE on April 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
World War II and the Holocaust have been covered so extensively in so many formats, and yet there are so many under represented stories. This book takes up one of these side stories, the story Jews in Hungary, that didn't make the textbooks or documentaries. And unlike textbook or documentary coverage, it brings the day-to-day realities of the war to life and will touch you in the way, only a personal story can.

Obviously this is a historical fiction, which is different from a primary source, but the writing is authentic and either very well researched or edited by a very knowledgeable historian. So many historical fiction books lose credibility on historic slips, but this book never does. When a new radio is described, it is Bakelite, not plastic. The words painted vivid pictures that had me craving croissants in Paris and Paprika and Potato dumplings in Hungary.

But the power of this book is that it will make you appreciate your warm bed, your clean sheets and each meal and trip to the grocery store by portraying what it was like when all these things were unavailable. It has been hard to get all of these deprivations out of my head since I finished the book. I have read remarkably few books that describe the hunger of those living in Europe as eloquently as this book.

It did take me a while to get into this book. 600 pages is pretty intimidating and it is dense in Jewish and Hungarian names, but after 100 pages I was hooked and drug along. The writing is immensely readable and I felt a connection to the characters (enough so that I have to admit I flipped to the back to make sure at least someone made it through.) The book culminated in a marathon session when I just couldn't put it down.
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If it is an author's highest goal to fully absorb her reader into the novel, then Julie Orringer's "The Invisible Bridge" stands as a marvel. When her characters joyed, I smiled. When they faced terror, my mouth went dry and my breath grew short. As they suffered, I found myself pushing back tears. As a reader I am rarely sentimental, yet something here seized my heart, and through almost 600 pages, this author artfully cupped it in her hands.

As Europe races towards war, a young Jew young Andras Levi travels to Paris to study architecture. Through school where he is a star, and the theatre where he works, Andras meets a parade of colorful characters. When set up with a girl, he instead falls in love with her mother, Klara. The two become swept up in a passionate affair, and in time she reveals the dark secret which forced her to flee Hungary sixteen years earlier. Orringer weaves a web of gripping digressive sub-plots, each of which pulls us along, but there is never any real doubt where these characters will end up -- Andras and Klara will spend the war back in their native Hungary.

With the library of novels written describing the Holocaust in Poland and Germany, and more seeming to appear every day, I found it fascinating to read Orringer's well researched descriptions of the experience of Hungarian Jews. Hated by the Fascist Arrow Cross Party, yet "protected" from Hitler by the regent Horthy they suffered abuse, humiliation, and often murder, but through much of the war were spared becoming grist for the mill of Nazi genocide. Hungarian Jews, as the last of Europe's great communities to be destroyed, as well as being perhaps the least considered, here receives a very fine elegy from the descendant of one survivor.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I do not especially care for most romance novels but I do love historical fiction and The Invisible Bridge appealed to me as a Jewish love story set against the backdrop of Hungary and France during World War II. As a first novel for Julie Orringer, The Invisible Bridge is indeed an impressive achievement in the research and presentation of established historic events. I am not Jewish so I have a great appreciation for any knowledge of Jewish history, particularly of the Holocaust and World War II, that I might learn through literature. The Invisible Bridge proved to be no exception. It is reminiscent of some of great works of historical literature that I have the highest respect for, including Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz, Night (Oprah's Book Club) by Elie Wiesel, Mila 18 by Leon Uris, The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945 by Wladyslaw Szpilman, and Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky to name a few. I might not put Ms.Read more ›
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