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Mr. Bridge: A Novel Paperback – January 13, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of our most interesting and intelligent American writers... Connell has written a small masterpiece, its structure exactly matched with its story."

About the Author

Evan Connell's other novels include "Mr. Bridge," "The Diary of a Rapist," and "The Connoisseur," He has also written short stories, collected in" Saint Augustine's Pigeon," book-length poems ("Notes From a Bottle Found On the Beach at Carmel" and" Points for a Compass Rose") and nonfiction (most recently the best-selling" Son of the Morning Star"). All of these titles are available from North Point Press.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; Reprint edition (January 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593760604
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593760601
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I finished this book I started raving about it to all my friends. "What's it about?" they asked. "Um, this housewife in Kansas City." "Yeah, but what happens?" "Er... nothing really. She gets married and has kids and they grow up."
But trying to summarize "Mrs. Bridge" cannot evoke the brilliance and heartbreak of this novel. Evan Connell understands his characters so well that he simply lets them be, allows them to breathe. "Simply" is the wrong word; few writers are gifted enough to pull off an essentially plotless novel. But "Mrs. Bridge" is never boring.
Incidentally, another reviewer writes about wanting to smack Mrs. Bridge's face. Such a reaction is the exact opposite of mine. Yes, she is guilty of class and racial prejudices; yes, she is repressed. All those with no sins cast the first stone, or smack, and get on with your righteous lives. For the rest of us, it's hard not to sympathize with a woman who struggles all her life to do the right thing, despite having a vague sense that she has never learned the right thing. She longs for something else, something more, but she is barely aware of the longing.
Some day this book will achieve its rightful place as a masterpiece of American realist fiction. But you should read it before that.
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Format: Audio Cassette
Denounced in 1959 for not being a 'real' novel, Mrs. Bridge is judged differently these days--and rightly so. The novel is a compelling portrait of American suburban bourgeois life; reading it causes precisely the same claustrophobia Mrs. Bridge sometimes realizes she's suffering from. In a way, this is Sartre's La Nausee moved to Kansas City, but an easier read--almost deceptively so. Closing the book though doesn't really relieve the angst the reader shares with poor Mrs. Bridge in the final section (no I won't give it away)--this book is too real. Don't look for plot, don't look for cheap thrills, but do look for detail, look for the Real peeking into Mrs. Bridge's seemingly perfect life in the Imaginary.
I'll be brief: others have said plenty. Just one quick remark: Connell is a stylist of the highest order. His prose is crisp; style matches subject matter. Example: "It was necessary to be careful among people you did not know." Every sentence is carefully crafted to the point where grammar itself becomes a web of cleanliness, clear and transparent. It may seem nothing special, but Connell is a craftsman. All the more striking, both in grammar and in plot, are the few moments, aporia, where something else could have happened--such as when Mr. Bridge is breathlessly studying, in Paris, "a black lace brassiere with the tips cut off," a moment Mrs. Bridge returns to later with vague uneasiness.
I am glad I was recently introduced to Connell's work. It is a treasure trove, and it's a pity so few of his works are still in print. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more of his novels to read: Deus Lo Volt! is next.
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Format: Paperback
Evan S. Connell's "Mrs. Bridge" is one of the truly outstanding works of Twentieth century American literature, a restrained, yet brilliantly wrought fictional portrait of upper middle class married life in the decades surrounding World War II. Connell tells the story of India Bridge in 117 short chapters, each a spare vignette of her enervated life in the perfectly manicured "country-club district" of an affluent Kansas City suburb. Linear in its narrative and meticulously realistic in its style, "Mrs. Bridge" follows India's life from marriage, to the birth of three children, to the rejection by those children of the repressed life of their parents as they grow into adults, to lonely suburban widowhood. While it is, at its heart, a grim tale of one woman's life of repression and, ultimately, loneliness and resignation, Connell's flawless and restrained narrative ultimately leaves the reader feeling exhilarated at the sheer literary achievement of "Mrs. Bridge".
Ostensibly the story of a marriage, Mr. Bridge is noticeably absent from much of the narrative. A successful lawyer, he is a man who is unable to express love or affection for his wife or his children, a man who is focussed on becoming "rich and successful," the epitome of the status-conscious husband and father whose identity lies in material possessions. "The family saw very little of him. It was not unusual for an entire week to pass without any of the children seeing him. On Sunday morning they would come downstairs and he . . . greeted them pleasantly and they responded deferentially, and a little wistfully because they missed him. Sensing this, he would redouble his efforts at the office in order to give them everything they wanted."
Mrs.
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Format: Paperback
Mrs. Bridge is perhaps the most vacuous and nondescript central character in any novel that I have encountered. She is the mother of three and the wife of a lawyer sufficiently successful for her to have a full-time colored maid/cook and a once-a-week laundress, freeing her for the PTA, meetings of the ladies' Auxiliary, country club engagements, and art classes. The qualities that she values above all others and seeks to instill in her children are nice manners, pleasant dispositions, and cleanliness. In any and every conversation, she can be counted on to supply vapid filler. And she will go to great lengths to gloss over the earthier things of life, especially with her children. For example, she took them to the wedding of a distant relative, where the bride walked down the aisle obviously pregnant - a circumstance that Mrs. Bridge could not bring herself to remark upon; three months later they received an announcement of the birth of a child, and Mrs. Bridge exclaimed, "Isn't that nice!", and then added for the benefit of her children (ages 14, 16, and 18), "First babies are so often premature." The great achievement of Evan S. Connell in MRS. BRIDGE is to limn such a pathetic existence in such a readable, engaging novel.

The novel spans about 25 years of India Bridge's life, from the time she gets married at age 26 (narrowly escaping, one senses, spinsterhood) to the time her youngest child is going off to war. It is set in an affluent section of Kansas City during the Twenties and Thirties. Mr. and Mrs. Bridge are thoroughly imbued with Midwestern Republican values, as are most of the secondary characters, their friends and neighbors. There are a few genuine eccentrics, but no one is particularly notable, much less admirable or heroic.
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