Before Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique
there was Mrs. Bridge,
an inspired novel set in the years around World War II that testified to the sapping ennui of an unexamined suburban life. India Bridge, the title character, has three children and a meticulous workaholic husband. She defends her dainty, untouched guest towels from son Douglas, who has the gall to dry his hands on one, and earnestly attempts to control her daughters with pronouncements such as "Now see here, young lady ... in the morning one doesn't wear earrings that dangle." Though her life is increasingly filled with leisure and plenty, she can't shuffle off vague feelings of dissatisfaction, confusion, and futility. Evan S. Connell, who also wrote the twinned novel Mr. Bridge
, builds a world with tiny brushstrokes and short, telling vignettes.
Mr. Connell writes of this woman without patronage, without snickers, without, indeed, any comment whatever on what he sets down of her life. He tells her story, less in sketches than in paragraphs, and how it is done I only wish I knew, but he makes Mrs. Bridge, her husband and her children and her neighbors understandable and, because understandable, moving, in his few taut words.” Dorothy Parker, Esquire
Mrs. Bridge is a hell of a portrait . . . She’s as real and as pathetic and as sad as any character I have read in a long time.” Wallace Stegner
For all their satire and dark implications, the novels of the Bridge family remain in the memory as triumphs of faultless realism. Mr. Connell's art is one of restraint and perfect mimicry.” The New York Times