Alexander's Bridge
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Alexander's Bridge

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  571 ratings  ·  79 reviews
The characteristic themes of Cather’s mature work are already present in her debut novella, an evocation of a tragic love triangle.

Bartley Alexander, renowned engineer of bridges, is a man with a past who “looked as a tamer of rivers ought to look.” Discovered by his mentor “sowing wild oats in London,” he returned to America and the commission that made his name. Now, m...more
Paperback, 116 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Melville House (first published 1912)
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A man is caught between the marriage of his adulthood and the love affair from his youth, loving both and realizing having both is not possible. The bridge can be an obvious metaphor but instead of the usual symbol overshadowed by the divisions it joins or the obstacles it crosses, there was some actual engineering speak. I approve.

I haven't read much of Willa Cather's works so I'm not sure how it compares to her other writings, or to that of other authors. I guess I could say she does paint her...more
Feb 12, 2012 Sparrow rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Princess Bridge
It is scientifically proven that Willa Cather is my favorite ever, so I took the opportunity over winter break to read this little gem. For a variety of reasons, I have stacks and stacks of books that I want to read because I think they will be terrible, or because someone recommended them to me so I feel an obligation. I often forget to read books I think I will love. And, you know, I think a lot of why I do that is because often I love the terrible books or the recommended books, and they are...more
“Alexander’s Bridge”, published in 1912 is the first novel by Willa Cather, though it should probably be considered a novella. It is a fairly quick read, but unfortunately it lacks depth and is overly simplistic. The title character is Bartley Alexander an engineer of bridges. He is married to Winifried Alexander, a loving and supportive wife who would appear to be a sufficient companion for any man. But Bartley hits a mid-life crisis, and finds himself in an affair with Hilda Burgoyne, a woman...more
Willa Cather is one of the authors who I am determined to read a lot more of this year. I already have several waiting to be read, I feel she is a writer that I have so far neglected a little bit.

Alexander’s Bridge was Willa Cather’s first novel, published in 1912, it is quite different to O! Pioneers – her second novel and the first of her Prairie trilogy that she is perhaps best known for and depicts Pioneer life in Nebraska.

In 1907 the great new cantilever bridge that was being built over the...more
Chris Wolak
This was my second reading of Alexander's Bridge. When I first read this novel I was in my mid-20s and saw Alexander as a tragic hero. Now, in my mid-40s, it speaks to me as a cautionary tale of what can happen when you lead a life of action without reflection. It seems that Alexander has lost touch with who he is and what he wants. I see him as a victim of his inability to be true to himself.

In some ways, Alexander's plight made me think of a recent cartoon making the rounds on Facebook: “Insid...more
This is a light and easy read, but certainly not up to standards as O Pioneers! or My Antonia. The characters were not developed in depth and I didn't have emotional connection to Bartley by the end. I'm not sure if I truly understood his character. Perhaps if the story was longer, and there was actual conflict between Bartley and Winifred, some stronger characters would have been created. More time was spent on the relationship between Barley and Hilda, and their relationship seemed far simpler...more
Marts  (Thinker)
The case of Bartley Alexander, an engineer who per chance meets his former lover Hilda, renewing their past love affairs. But Alexander is now married to Winifred who has helped throughout his professional life and is a devoted wife.

In this story we are reminded that sometimes in life we need to break the bridges down and just start all over again!!!
A slight story with loads of drama at the end. Spoiler Alert. (view spoiler)...more
Ana Maria Rînceanu
How have I lived 24 years withought hearing of Willa Cather? I can't give a proper review for this book, my mind is fried. As soon as my senses recover and maybe after I take a writing course, will I atempt to write about this book.
I have loved reading Willa Cather over the years. But I was quite disappointed with Alexander's Bridge. I never seemed to grab me. I couldn't identify with any of the characters. I've vowed to only read one tragedy a year and unfortunately this is the second in six months, so I believe I've already hit my plimsoll line on depressing books. The only saving grace to this book was that it was so short that by the time I realized it was a tragedy it was pretty much over. How's that for giving away t...more
Francisca Viegas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicola Mansfield
This is a perfect example of why I love being in this bookclub; I finally get to read an author who has been on my tbr list for ever! I was thrilled to sit down and read this, Cather's first book. The writing has a natural, beautiful flow and the book was easy to read. The plot is quite simple, one of a man having an affair and the tortures it brings to all concerned. It is a story of overwhelming love, the wife for the husband, the mistress for the husband, the husband for the wife and the husb...more
Alexander’s Bridge tells the story of Bartley Alexander, an American engineer famed for building bridges. He lives a perfect life in Boston with his loving, supportive wife Winifred. However, his life starts to unravel when business takes him to London and he meets Hilda Burgoyne, an Irish actress with whom he had been in love when he was younger. He begins to question how happy he really is and soon finds himself divided in two and under the terrible strain of leading a double life.

It seems tha...more
Well, everyone has to start somewhere. This is Cather’s first novel (and if you know me, you know I adore Cather). In Alexander’s Bridge, Cather is trying to ape contemporary Henry James. It’s so obvious that it’s a little painful, even though Cather already has her amazing sense of character and place well intact. Her story – her plot – is awkwardly romantic, and she tries to be just a little too urbane (something she gave up for her next novel – her fist success – O’ Pioneers!)

Alexander is a f...more
Marcia Lonteen-Martin
This is Cather's first novel, vastly different from the pioneer novels for which she became known. It concerns an architect for bridges, Bartley Alexander, and his downfall over the love of a beautiful woman. The setting switches among his home in Boston with his wife, Winifred; to London with his old flame and newly reattained mistress, Hilda, an actress; to Canada, the scene of his latest bridge construction. He begins to suffer emotionally after he and Hilda reacquaint after many years. He tr...more
I am not sure what moral is being taught in this seemed to set up a situation and never really resolve or develop it enough. I think in the end the lesson to be learned is to "not put off for tomorrow what can be done today", or "some guys are cowards ruled by hormones". The main character never really makes and carries out any tough decisions in his personal life, although he is an amazing engineer. He has his cake and eats it too, and in the end his hypocrisy is never really exposed...more
I decided it was time to read (and re-read) some of the classic novels. This Willa Cather book is one that had been sitting on my shelf for ages and it was a good one to start with. Written in 1912, this is the story of a young successful architect/engineer who has designed and built the world's longest bridge. But that's only a small piece of the story. Alexander is in love with two women. The most important woman in his life is his wife, who he absolutely adores. Yet, into his life come anothe...more
Another book on tape. "Alexander's Bridge" is a novella with a dated morality. Bradly (I think) Alexander is an architect/engineer who builds bridges. He is seen by his friend and teacher as a somewhat unstoppable force with flaws. He's idolized by his clever and self-contained wife. He is in love with his wife but when he encounters an old flame, he plans to meet her in London where he is scheduled to be the next summer. He agonizes over his lust for the old flame and his loyalty for his wife a...more
Emily Eastman
This book was awfully sad! ): There was a whole lot of symbolism in there too. First the bridges Alexander is building, you notice in the beginning, are all going so well. He is succesful , he has an adoring wife, a good career, he is well renowned and he is young. As he goes to London and meets the ex-love-of-his-life he falls for her again and so does all his bridges. The more wrong choices Alexander makes the worse his career gets, it starts with complaints with the bridge in New Jersey the h...more
Dick Hamilton
While this has nothing to do with the book itself, I just want to note that my wife suggested we read books together by reading aloud to each other. This was the first book we read like this and it was an excellent choice. Willa Cather is one of my very favorite writers and always enjoyable.
Reading the preface to this is pretty interesting; it is Willa Cather's somewhat pained explanation of why this book isn't as good as O Pioneers! or My Antonia. But I actually think she underestimated herself. I found this work pretty amazing. It isn't as nuanced as her other writings, but it is cutting and I don't mind saying that some of the people in here are easily recognizable for East Coasters.

Some of my favorite excerpts:

"He was a natural force, certainly, but beyond that...he was not an...more
Bartley Alexander is a force. He moves always. He doesn't sit quietly and reflect. His personality is felt by everyone he knows.

He is a civil engineer and he is building big awe inspiring bridges at a time when the really large suspension bridges are just being created.

He also has a wife. A very respectable and financially secure wife. His life is picture perfect. Until he decides he isn't happy.

Apparently mid-life crisis occurred 100 years ago too.

This is Willa Cather's first published book, al...more
David Hight
I really enjoyed this book, I believe Ms. Cather accurately portrayed traits common to the minds of human beings, and what may happen to us if we're not honest and disciplined with ourselves.
Tom McDade
From back cover:

"Willa Cather's first published novel--
which appeared in 1912, just one year before
her great masterpiece, O' Pioneers--
will surprise and delight readers..."
Alexander is an architect. He designs bridges. Right now he has two problem bridges. One is in Canada; it's an actual bridge. The other is his relationship bridge; he has two women, one of whom he is married to in the USA, the other in London. He loves both and doesn't want to lose either of them, but he is essentially a monogamous person, and he doesn't feel so good. He's cheating on his wife and she doesn't know about it; he keeps meaning to end it with Hilda, but when he sees her, he can't.

Cather wrote this book probably half a century before the term "midlife crisis" came into being, but she had it down cold.

Bartley Alexander "married up" as they say. He loves his wife, Winifred, and the life style he has married into. He is a successful construction engineer known for designing bridges. Life is good. But then on a trip abroad he happens to meet an old love - the actress Hilda Burgoyne. He is torn between his former love and his wife at the same time as his professional integrity...more
Dude goes through a mid-life crisis and starts an affair with an old flame. Fine but not overly interesting.
This was very different from the other Willa Cather books I've read. I suppose since it's her first published, she hadn't started to "write what [she] know[s]." Despite the different settings and characters, I thought it was pretty enjoyable. I wasn't wild about the ending, which is why I can't say it was my favorite. But, it reminded me of Edith Wharton, which is always a good thing.

Mom, if you're reading this you should borrow this book. Some of it is in London.
While not nearly so riveting at My Antonia or Oh Pioneers!, it's enjoyable and memorable.
Well-written and engaging but it doesn't move me the way her other books do, mostly b/c I just didn't feel all that connected to any of the characters.
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Wilella Sibert Cather is an eminent author from the United States. She is perhaps best known for her depictions of U.S. life in novels such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop.

More about Willa Cather...
My Ántonia O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1) Death Comes for the Archbishop The Song of the Lark The Professor's House

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