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Bridge of Sighs

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  19,706 ratings  ·  2,542 reviews
Bridge of Sighs courses with small-town rhythms and the claims of family. Here is a town, as well as a world, defined by magnificent and nearly devastating contradictions.

Louis Charles (“Lucy”) Lynch has spent all his sixty years in upstate Thomaston, New York, married to the same woman, Sarah, for forty of them, their son now a grown man. Like his late, beloved father, Lu
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Knopf (first published 2007)
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Ellie So little of the book, really, was about Sarah, that I didn't dwell on her resolution. Of course, it had to do with "LouC's" resolution, which stayed…moreSo little of the book, really, was about Sarah, that I didn't dwell on her resolution. Of course, it had to do with "LouC's" resolution, which stayed right in character with him. An odd book in many ways, but captivating. Noonan was never developed enough as an adult--how he became a painter--but it was already a long book. I listened to it while driving over a period of time! Narrator was appropriate, which helps!(less)
Judi Ruckstuhl There are 642 pages of Bridge of Sighs
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Community Reviews

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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,706 ratings  ·  2,542 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-authors
The book is structured a lot like Empire Falls. Its major theme is movers vs. stayers which I talked about in my review of Empire Falls so I copied that at the bottom of this review.

The main character is the “stayer” who is happy as a clam running a convenience store across the street from where he has lived almost all his life. He is married to a local woman – high school sweetheart. His mother had wanted him to finish college out of town, marry a girl from AWAY and get a real job outside this
Apr 22, 2008 rated it liked it
First the bad news: Russo, as one of the Great Male Narcissists (a term coined by D.F. Wallace who did not include Russo in his assessment)has probably been accused of both racism and misogyny and these allegations do have some merit.

I have read all of Richard Russo's books and I have greatly enjoyed them all. But I am troubled by the fact that often, if a female character isn't chasing you with a rolling pin, she's got your dick in her mouth. Crazed harridans and insatiable sluts make up the ma
Will Byrnes
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Bridge of Sighs is that Venice pont which prisoners traverse on their way to jail, usually for good. The sighs are the prisoners bemoaning their dark fate. Are we all so condemned? Set in the upper reaches of New York, the small city of Thomaston is familiar territory for readers of Empire Falls. This is more than a family tale. It is the story of a town as epitomized by a group of friends and relations over three generations. The big theme here is predestination, whether people are fated to ...more
B the BookAddict
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
In Bridge of Sighs, Russo takes you into a small upstate American town, Thomaston, and inside the lives of the Lynch family. This story is over decades and is a story with many stories. He moves the text easily between the present and the past and the different characters.

The key characters are the Lynch family; Lou (Big Lou) and Tessa, son Lou C (Lucy), his wife Sarah and Bobby Marconi latterly known as Robert Noonan. Lucy, now 60, is writing his memoir and it is through this medium we learn o
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
With over 500 pages, and multidimensional profiles covering school days through to later years, a great writer like Russo can give you plenty to chew on. What I appreciated most was the rich contrast in character attitudes. Is it better to be an optimist offering the benefit of the doubt even if naively, or a pessimist giving the detriment of the doubt even if unfairly?

Two of the main characters were artists. This gave Russo the chance to use their works to help interpret the story. It also brou
Sixty-year old Lucy Lynch (Louis Charles Lynch) lived in Thomaston, New York, a small town, for forty years, and experienced an even smaller place early in his life when fellow schoolmates closed him up in a trunk and left him there. Instead of being afraid, he made peace with it, discovered the comfort in claustrophobia, thereby scaring the living daylights out of these young schoolmates. However, it would lead to inexplicable 'spells' for the rest of his life.

This story starts off with Lucy wr
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Once again, Russo hits one out of the park! Just a marvelous story surrounding these rich characters. BRIDGE OF SIGHS is a wonderful read.
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
When I finished reading Richard Russo's wonderful novel Empire Falls (for which he won the Pulitzer), I wondered - how will this novelist do this again? Turns out, he just keeps getting better. One thing I've always admired about Russo is his ability to write about small towns in a way that honors the provincial nature of small town life while exploring all of its intricacies and nuances, its complexity and heartache - the way a person can live a wide life in the smallest of ponds. Perhaps this ...more
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was ok
Flashback to 1999: setting off on a 30-hour train ride between Halifax and London, ON, I pick up Russo's new novel Straight Man, on the recommendation of a bookseller friend. Enthralled all the way through the Maritimes and Quebec--laughing aloud in that half-empty compartment.

Once in London, I pick up The Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool, two of Russo's earlier books. And love them, esp. Nobody's Fool, which must surely be Russo's best work. A few years later, in Ithaca, NY, I eagerly purchase his n
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the type of book that, had I had the luxury of not having to do a damn thing other than read, I would have read this in a day or two. It's so easy to find something engrossing about his characters, both good and bad. As it was, I read this book in between trips since it's too big to fit in my carry-on luggage, so I've managed to drag it out for some time. Now that I'm finished, I'm only sorry about that. I feel like I've just walked away from an old friend knowing that I'll never see the ...more
Nov 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: very patient people who enjoyed Empire Falls
The Bridge of Sighs is one long-ass bridge. I suppose once you win a Pulitzer Prize, you don't have to submit to pesky things like editing. In this case, though, it would have been beneficial. The book was too long, and weirdly repetitive. I still dig Russo's writing, for the most part, and the way he can describe all the unspoken things that go on within people's relationships. That's amazing. But I was done with the book about 200 pages before he was. I finished, but only because I had some fo ...more
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am glad i put this one on my reading list. It is beautifully written and has a lot to say about our daily lives and our relationships between parents and children. It covers three generations of a story about two boys growing up in the 1950-60s. Though a slow but dense plot, it has a lot of memorable characters with imperfect hearts living in an imperfect world.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Oct 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-reads
There is a stone bridge in Venice, Italy they call the Bridge of Sighs. it connects the Doge's Palace in St. Mark's Square, where there are interrogation rooms, to an adjacent prison. Crossing this bridge, the convicts - at least the ones without money or influence - came to understand that all hope was lost. According to legend, their despairing sighs could be heard echoing in the neighboring canals.

Strangely enough, I never felt that "all hope was lost" while reading this book. Quite the contr
Jess The Bookworm
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was not what I was expecting at all. I confess that I picked it up in the library because of the name, because I am going to Venice in a few months' time. It is not set in Venice, but rather it is set in the small town of Thomaston, New York.

This little town has residents which love it, despite the fact the river runs red and causes cancer. One such resident, Lou C. Lynch (Lucy), is the main character of this book, a man who idolises the town and his father, choosing to see the most po
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was a little apprehensive about this book after reading the press it received. I knew I would enjoy it, but I seeing that involved a middle-aged man reflecting on his life in a dying New England town, I feared a retread of Empire Falls.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Many of the elements you would expect from Russo are there, the quiet politics of small towns, the relationship between parents and children and even the tainted river are all present. But Russo expands on these and builds them i
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Lou C. Lynch (aka Lucy, unfortunately) who grew up in upstate New York before Civil Rights and the women's movement. The setting and the characters will remind you of Russo's previous work Empire Falls, again borrowing from his own biography. As Lou and his wife Sarah prepare for a trip to Italy, he is remembering the childhood friend whom they hope to visit... also recalling his very average, very middle class childhood, going from life in the rough and gritty West End part ...more
Julie Christine
Reading this book is like slipping on your favorite pair of jeans- the ones you never wash to keep them perfect softly and loose, donning a beloved sweatshirt and thinking "I wish I lived the sort of life that I could wear these clothes every day..." Meaning that (if you like Russo, of course) these characters, this setting, the storyline are so comforting and familiar- it's like coming home.

Which isn't to say that there aren't surprises, that it isn't fresh, nuanced and captivating. It's a been
This might be my longest review ever. Here we go, in bullet points...

1. I like Russo's work a lot, esp. Straight Man, Nobody's Fool, and Risk Pool. Nobody writes about rundown small towns better than Russo. In the three books already mentioned Russo doesn't overshoot his purpose; he's funny and psychologically incisive without becoming ponderous, although he can be rightfully accused of painting a rosier picture than his settings warrant. Bridge of Sighs, also set in a small town, aims higher an
Feb 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-the-library
Oh my STARS!!!!!!!! I am finally done -- thank GOD. This is the longest book in the history of mankind. It was good, but not good enough to read every single word. No one REALLY cares about EVERY SINGLE thought and EVERY SINGLE memory of EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER. OH MY GOD. I honestly skimmed the last 30 pages; I couldn't take it anymore. I AM SO GLAD IT IS OVER.
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jeremy by: Josh Bucher
This is Russo's best book.

He does a couple things in this book that are impressive on both a technical and human level.

That Russo can lovingly create deep and human characters has been established in all of his novels. What's truly amazing about Bridge of Sighs is the amount of depth he gives to nearly every character in the book. At the beginning of the novel we see the story from the perspective of only a couple characters. During this time, many of the characters seem predictable and shallow,
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was my first Russo novel and won't be the last.

Sometimes the dynamic of a family in a small town makes for the some of the most interesting stories. In the beginning, it is teased that the main action of the story may move to Venice (as the title implies), but that never really happens. This story is about a small town in New York, and the coming of age (and old age) of Louis C. ("Lucy") Lynch. It's also about his wife, his best friend, his parents, small town prejudices, and how love is co
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved it! First book by Mr Russo and it was in a word wonderful. What a way with characters this author has! I loved each and every one of them. It was so very different from the previous character driven novel (Truly, Madly, Guilty) I read which bored me to tears. Goal for 2017 read more of his novels....
Nancy (Hrdcovers)
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing

Is this what Richard Russo is trying to tell us in picking out the title of this book? Are you also someone who tries to analyze the title of each book you read as I do? Built in the 16th century in Venice, The Bridge of Sighs is the last thing a prisoner walks over before reaching his cell. The idea behind the name is that the last view a convict sees before imprisonment is a beautiful Venetian canal which must cause him to sigh at its beauty, never to be seen again until
Mar 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I really love Richard Russo and really enjoyed this book but felt it went on a little too long at the end -- like a good friend who you love to spend time with but who stays maybe a day longer than he should because as much as you love him you've got work to do. And yet, you can hardly be too upset because this friend says things like:"[T]here is, despite our wild imaginings, only one life. The ghostly others, no matter how real they seem, no matter how badly we need them, are phantoms. The one ...more
Oct 10, 2007 rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of Richard Russo, so I wanted to love this one. Although, as usual, Russo paints a vivid picture of small town life, somehow the story never grabbed me. Centered on Lou "Lucy" Lynch, a typical Russo lovable loser, we hear the story of his life in a class-conscious upstate New York town. We also get snippets of the life of his best friend, a painter in Venice who escaped the small town. But the story, while solidly told, is never particularly moving. Nothing much happens, and ther ...more
Chris Gager
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this one before tackling "Beloved". This will be a bit lighter I suppose. It starts out sounding like "Straight Man", with its middle-aged first-person narrator. The first two Russo books I read were 3rd person and the next two(including this) - 1st person. We start out back in upstate New York in a small town with little going on. In other words... familiar Russo territory.

Moving along... this book has the usual Russo virtue of readability. When he sticks to the story of Lucy'
Jason Pettus
(My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

As regular readers know, artistic criticism is something fairly new to me (or at least regular artistic criticism is), with the entire thing being as much of a learning process for me as it often is for you; and of all the new things I am learning about the subject these days, one of the most surprising is of just how st
Dec 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Hmm. Well, Empire Falls this was not - it lacked the freshness and colorful characters and small town charm, though Russo tried valiantly to capture that in this book - it just felt flat to me somehow, like he knew that he was supposed to be incorporating that but it just wasn't working.
The book was readable and at times engrossing, I can't say I wouldn't recommend it, but I had some issues with it. For one thing, Russo would have some insightful turns of phrase and then make sure to explain wha
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
As usual, Russo sticks to the proverbial ribs. That is, for me anyway, his stories stay with me. I find myself thinking about the characters long after I've finished the book in question & 'Bridge' is no exception.

Russo's greatest strength is an ability to create detailed, unique and real characters and there are many here. Spanning decades, various stories unfold, featuring a complex crossover of characters and episodes. It's a treat indeed to glimpse one incident from the perspectives of
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
absolutely brilliant...
russo is very nearly the most important american novelist currently working...

this book is all about the vertiginous...
the deep disorientation and confusion that results from exposure to two very different points of view...
this concept is explored in so many compelling ways through the juxtaposition of black and white, hope to despair, love to hate...
the idea is made that much more complex by the notion of equivocation...the act of attempting to find and establ
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RICHARD RUSSO is the author of seven previous novels; two collections of stories; and Elsewhere, a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody’s Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries.
“Have you ever noticed that when people use the expression 'I have to say', what follows usually needn't be said?” 30 likes
“The line of gray along the horizon is brighter now, and with the coming light I feel a certainty: that there is, despite our wild imaginings, only one life. The ghostly others, no matter how real they seem, no matter how badly we need them, are phantoms. The one life we're left with is sufficient to fill and refill our imperfect hearts with joy, and then to shatter them. And it never, ever lets up.” 29 likes
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