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Mrs. Bridge

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  2,058 ratings  ·  335 reviews
Best-selling author Evan S. Connell is expert at sketching the banalities and trivialities of middle-class values, customs, and habits. Like Mr. Bridge, its counterpart, Mrs. Bridge is comprised of over one hundred titled chapters, containing vignettes, an image, a fragment of conversation, an event—all building powerfully toward the completed group portrait of a family, c ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 13th 2005 by Counterpoint (first published 1958)
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If you’re like me, there may be certain privileged disenchanted types you feel like telling, “Get a real problem!” I thought for a while Mrs. Bridge would qualify for that kind of reproach. She had a comfortable life at a time when many did not, she had few responsibilities, and the status quo, such as she perceived it, suited her fine. Whence the angst, then? Reading on, we see from where very clearly. I was no longer tempted to say her problems weren’t real. Thanks to Connell’s many revealing ...more
What a patient and subtle novel! Mrs. Bridge, portrait of an upper-middle class matron in 1920s-30s-40s Kansas City, would be less effective if Connell’s satirical sense were cartoonish or caricatural, or if he had chosen to distance himself from the milieu of his own childhood with rounds of wordy denunciation. It is easy to caricature those who strive to be unerringly conventional--absolutely, unthreateningly recognizable to whatever peers they’re set among--as edgeless and dull, with a vast u ...more
MJ Nicholls
A quietly devastating portrayal of a housewife shorn of all personality or free will, raising her typical kids in a typical Midwestern breadbasket under the aegis of her all-powerful husband (who has a sequel in which to express his own typicality). The effect is similar to the poetic melodrama of The Book of Disquiet, but with a more lightly mocking and tender-heartedly sympathetic tone, and less insufferable moaning posing as philosophical profundity. In under 200 canny pages this novel slowly ...more
when i was in mcnally jackson on my last visit to new york, i dragged greg over to a table, asking him about Son of the Morning Star, the evan s. connell book i'd set out to read several years ago before stumbling upon this book, mrs. bridge, instead. i was concerned about the small font size in the morning star edition the store carried and wanted to know if b&n had a bigger-fonted one. when we returned to the book there was a man standing there looking at mrs. bridge, stationed just beside ...more
I can't for the life of me figure out what makes this novel so great, but damn it is great. I wish I knew why.

You might protest and cry, "Oh but I have already read so many novels about repressed twentieth-century housewives!" But that is like being offered a plate of chocolate chip cookies and saying, "No thank you. I've tried those before."

Chocolate chip cookies are delicious and aren't less so for being frequently baked. And anyway, you haven't had a cookie quite like this one before.

Told in
Diane Librarian
I loved every page of Mrs. Bridge. Evan Connell painted a picture of an upper-class wife in 1930s Kansas City, and he did it through a series of vignettes. Each short story makes the picture more complete, and we see how desperate Mrs. Bridge is to make her husband happy, to fit in with society and to instill good values in her children. She tries to be interested in news and politics, but admits it's so much easier to just ask her husband who to vote for. She doesn't like to attend loud parties ...more
If I had the power to bestow canonical status, I would do so for this quietly powerful book by Evan S. Connell. Mrs. Bridge is a collection of heartbreaking vignettes, glimpses into a Kansas City housewife's life (or what passes for one) in the 1920s-40s. Our title character is a member of the leisure class, a country-club matron and mother of three. Impeccably behaved and nearly dead inside, Mrs. Bridge longs to feel needed by her family, to elicit passion from her lawyer husband and win back h ...more
Becca Becca
It's amazing that Connell managed to write an entire book about the inner thoughts of a character who has absolutely no self-realized passion, dreams, thoughts, or desires...and that it's such a captivating and haunting novel.
This is the saddest book I've ever read. This book makes King Lear look like a bedtime story.

What's remarkable is that nothing that sad ever happens in it-- no genocide, loss, hardly even any death. It's just this relentless collection of tiny moments in a life. It's a huge achievement of craft, and it would never, NEVER get published today.
Another annotation from the MFA/CW work at Goddard:

Tiny Bricks Build an Exquisite Structure: The Effects of Teensy Chapters in Evan S. Connell’s “Mrs. Bridge”

Writers use lots of words. Sometimes too many. What a contrast, what a pleasure and relief, to read the work of Evan S. Connell in “Mrs. Bridge,” built as it is with the tiniest of bricks -- microchapters of anything from a few paragraphs to a few pages, at most -- each of which is as exquisite as a good joke or a tight poem.
The format of t
Do you like Updike? Cheever? Roth? Yates? Then why the fuck haven't you read Evan Connell?

Because no one reads him anymore. Seriously, much like Richard Yates 15 years ago, Connell has become the forgotten voice of the Age of Anxiety, with a small base of devoted followers and waiting for rediscovery (and now how delighted I am that I can be part of that select fraternity, even if the fraternity is a concept that Connell mocks relentlessly). There's the ironic distance that I see echoed in Cheev
Disaggregated, cool, remote. The book has its share of dramatic events, but nearly all of them happen "offstage," with the characters describing what happened or trying to piece together what has gone on. Most of the narrative and dialogue focus on everyday tasks, rainy days, and small talk. Weirdly, this novel reminds me of the nonfiction Love, Loss, and What I Wore, which is not nearly as polished or as powerful but has a similar sense of detachment.

Grace Barron is my favorite character (I sus
Emily  O
Dec 07, 2011 Emily O rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily by: The Contemporary Novel (ENG 353)
On the surface, Mrs. Bridge doesn't sound like the kind of book you'd want to pick up. The story of a typical 1950s housewife, it seems from the blurb on the back to be way too boring to even merit consideration. I am glad, then, that I was made to read this book for a class. With its interesting structure and realistic characters, Mrs. Bridge is an incredibly well-crafted and enjoyable piece of literature.

Mrs. Bridge tells the story of Mrs. India Bridge, from the time she gets married until the
Hannah  Messler
I'd finished Moby-Dick and was suffering that lost, faithless feeling where you probably are gonna end up having to read about six graphic novels just to tread water till you're able to believe the world of another book . . . and anyway all my books are in boxes, so. But just in case, I opened a box, and there on top was this little yellow paperback David Markson had been encouraging me to read, before I was fired, before he died. And so I did and it was wonderful. If you have not read it, do, a ...more
Kyle P
May 17, 2009 Kyle P rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone - of special interest to writers.
Recommended to Kyle P by: Me
Text Book Manuel of Ironic Writing

This book is such a pleasure to read that it took me a second reading to realize how enviously brilliant the writing is. EVERYTHING is ironic! Another reader said its amazing that a book can be such a tragedy when nothing tragic appears to happen. Another unsung Classic. Deserves to be right beside "The Great Gatsby" any Edith Wharton (well... early and middle, Edith Wharton...), Toni Morrison, "The Catcher in the Rye", and anything else you consider Great. And
Julie M
Well this may be another case of being so mad at the character's life, that I think I didn't like the book much, when I guess the fact that it made me so mad (and depressed, and sad) probably means it was very effective. I realize it's not realistic to expect her to have changed in SOME way by the end of the novel...but I was hoping Mrs. Bridge would take a second step after any of her teentsy tiny motions towards liberation, thought, self-expression, anything! But nope.

Just thankful to live in
Moira Russell
At last I have found MRS Bridge! She and the Mr were cruelly separated - he resides in a living-room bookshelf, I just discovered her in a pile on the bedroom floor. Snuggled right underneath Sir Thomas Wyatt, too, the shameless hussy.
Mrs. Bridge is a woman who doesn't think too deeply about what she wants. Told in vignettes, her story focuses on her relationships with others- her husband, her children, her friends, and her servants. A sense of despair follows her through her boring days and she doesn't have any inkling on how to make any changes. A rather depressing read but it kept me turning the pages if only to hope that one day she'd find happiness. But even though she professed that her greatest happiness occurred when ...more
This historical novel takes place in the late 1930's and is told by India Bridge, the wife/mother of three children. Each short chapter deals with one topic such as tea leaves, lady poet, and laundry. Her day to day activities and thoughts are relevant to a well to do family of the times. Her musings often dwell on her two daughters. The companion novel, Mr. Bridge, is told by her husband and he focuses on their son and his strong feelings of the financial burden he feels for his family. Fascina ...more
Ellen Keim
This must not be my kind of book. I see that almost everyone gave the book four if not five stars, but to me the book was just "ok." Maybe I needed to read Mr. Bridge first. Or to have seen the movie that was based on both novels ("Mr. and Mrs. Bridge"). As one reviewer admits, there was no plot, which I can live with. But the fact that there was never any self-awareness on the part of the main character left me frustrated. The best part of the book was that it was made up of vignettes rather th ...more
Catherine Byers
Connell's crisp, short chapters often end with biting humor...or tragedy. My mother might have envied Mrs. Bridget's wealth and worldly goods, but not the prison of etiquette that holds her captive. As a friend said at book club, "I just want to shake her!" At times touching, at others maddening, Mrs. Bridge is a character I will remember. I am glad that none of my children is like the chilling Ruth. Douglas, the son, provides some of the book's funniest and bizarre moments. Mr. Bridge, though l ...more
First of all I must say a big thank you to Annabel of Annabel’s books for this book, which I was lucky enough to win following her blog birthday giveaway. I had already heard some very good things about this book – and now following the Birmingham bookcrossing Christmas meal and secret Santa swap I have the companion novel Mr Bridge to read as well.
Mrs Bridge is a remarkable novel – really very powerful in its way. It tells the story of middle class American society of the 1930’s and 40’s throu
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The dull Mrs. Bridge made me smile with her listless approach to life. What will people think? She is all about avoiding eye contact and conversation. You just want to slam some pan lids together in front of Mrs. Bridge's face for a reaction.

The events that happen in this book are so everyday mundane that I had to chuckle through most of the book. I, however, did find myself begin to tire of Mrs. Bridge and her dull, skewed approach to raising her c
I spent the first half sort of furious the writer could have so little sympathy for a character and the second half devastated by the sympathy he did have for her. And of course the amazing thing is that it's all done by means of the most mundane sort of vignettes, the sort you worry might become tedious when you first start reading. It was never tedious and the overall effect was as profound as anything I've read in quite a long time.
Aug 22, 2014 Em rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy literature
Recommended to Em by: my mother
Well written, dark, brilliant. It was easy to get through and hard to put down. I do tend to prefer more sophisticated novels, and though the language may not have been much of a challenge, who's to say it wasn't sophisticated? It's a relatively quick read mainly because it's compelling, and because each sentence packs quite a bit of punch. It's really quite elegant. I highly suggest it.
Cort McMeel
I happened to read this book and finish it on the day Evan Connell passed away, this past Thursday Jan 11 2013...What an incredible find! A novel of suburban upper class angst in the 50s really isn't my cup of tea and it just goes to show you great writing can make one care about any character. I was floored. So seemingly Simple in its sort of impressionistic layering of anecdotal chapters. Mr. Connell creates a full, vivid portrait of a lost, unfullfilled wife. Riveting and harrowing, the story ...more
Ann Zweber
These Little Free Libraries have me reading books I would never imagine! The series of anecdotes about Mrs. Bridge paint a life that is uninteresting, yet intriguing. We all know a “Mrs. Bridge” and it is likely there is a part of Mrs. Bridge in all of us. My thoughts on this book are ambiguous, much like those of the main character.
Simon A. Smith
Let me say first that Evan S. Connell is a wonderful writer that doesn't get the attention and recognition he deserves. I read this book out loud to my mom and there was just something so effortless about Connell's language and so graceful about his subtlety masquerading as simplicity that I fell in love with this sad little novel. I really liked the format a lot - short chapters, not many characters, minimal pages. I tend to enjoy writing that doesn't mess around. I'm more impressed with restra ...more
An interesting portrayal of World War II era American society. A satyrical work, but not always sharp edged. Obviously, Mrs. Bridge's narrow world view is not ment to be taken at face value, but it still made her an unlikeable character for me. She represented too much of what bothers me about some Americans; the "America-first" ignorance which is still prevelant today. What saves her character is that she makes overtures of trying to open her mind, although it never creaks open very far. Her ap ...more
This is at least the third time I’ve read this and it never disappoints. Mrs. Bridge is a wealthy Kansas City woman living the circumscribed life of a 50s wife and mother. Her story is told in brief chapters that are almost parables in the way they linger in memory. The style is laconic and self-effacing. Instead of describing a scene or emotion fully he just sort of tickles it and then lets it go. It’s up to the reader to come up with his or her own understanding.
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Evan S. Connell, over the last half century, has published nineteen books of fiction, poetry, and essays, several of which—including the best-sellers Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, and the erudite, anecdotal, and totally unique nonfiction book Son of the Morning Star—are American classics. I've admired his work for many years, since first reading Diary of a Rapist, and was happy for a chance to inter ...more
More about Evan S. Connell...
Son of the Morning Star: General Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn Mr Bridge The Diary of a Rapist Mr. Bridge / Mrs. Bridge Deus Lo Volt!: A Chronicle of the Crusades

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“Her first name was India-she was never able to get used to it.” 5 likes
“ She was not certain what she wanted from life, or what to expect from it, for she had seen so little of it, but she was sure that in some way - because she willed it to be so - her wants and her expectations were the same.
For a while after their marriage she was in such demand that it was not unpleasant when he fell asleep. Presently, however, he began sleeping all night, and it was then she awoke more frequently, and looked into the darkness, wondering about the nature of men, doubtful of the future, until at last there came a night when she shook her husband awake and spoke of her own desire. Affably he placed one of his long white arms around her waist; she turned to him then, contentedly, expectantly, and secure. However, nothing else occurred, and in a few minutes he had gone back to sleep.
This was the night Mrs. Bridge concluded that while marriage might be an equitable affair, love itself was not.”
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