Susan E's Reviews > Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
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May 19, 09

bookshelves: 2009-read, music-widows-book-group
Read in May, 2009

** spoiler alert ** This is the second book I have read by Richard Russo, the first being Empire Falls, also a book group selection. I felt such a connection to the book and its characters, for the town reminded me of the bloom-off-the-rose town I grew up in north of Syracuse (in fact, my hometown, Fulton, was mentioned several times in the story as a place where characters caught the train... sort of funny, for I do not recall a train station; we had to travel to Syracuse to catch any passenger trains). Like Townsend (which only sent one character away, really) my town had an east and west side, bridges, and a Division Street. I could see the tree-lined streets in my head as I read the book and could even smell the halls of the school where Lou, Sarah and Bobby attended class.

So I was well-inclined to like the story, regardless of where it went. And I did like the story, up until the final chapters.

Russo lost me when Sarah went back to the old apartment complex where her mother lived. I didn't find Sarah's story to ring true through Russo's voice, and the whole Make a Positive Connection to a Person of Color device didn't work for me. I felt as if Russo had abandoned the story for a period of time, then wrote a related short story he inserted into a novel that was already well-crafted. And then Kayla comes back to Townsend to replace the infant daughter they lost, and to make up for Brindy's defection, and to reconnect Lou and Sarah, AND to make up for the injustice done to Three? Come on. Isn't that a lot to ask of one young character? And then Bobby/Noonon drops dead either at the train station as it seemed, or at the dinner after as was reported... that seemed a bit too slick for me, too. Endings presented as neatly wrapped packages are irksome to me as the reader.

Still, after I finished the last page, I wanted to flip the book over and start reading it again, knowing more of the tiny details would connect even better a second time through.
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05/14/2009 page 171
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