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Mrs. Bridge

(Mr. Bridge & Mrs. Bridge #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  4,093 ratings  ·  620 reviews
Alternate-cover edition for ISBN 0865470561 / 9780865470569 can be found here

The wife of a successful lawyer in 1930s Kansas City, India Bridge, tries to cope with her dissatisfaction with an easy, though empty, life.

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
Paperback, 246 pages
Published 1981 by North Point Press (first published October 1955)
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,093 ratings  ·  620 reviews

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Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Zoeytron by: Michael Barsa
Shelves: public-library
Originally published in 1959, this quiet novel is set in Kansas City in the 1930's. The minutiae of everyday life, the ins and outs of the Bridge household, shown in bits and snippets. Mrs. Bridge is vaguely dissatisfied with her life, but can't really put her finger on why. Her husband and three children no longer seem to need her attention. In providing everything for her, it may be that Mr. Bridge has done her no favors. She is at loose ends more often than not.

Finely written, it is subtle, w
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and understated character study of a country-club wife in the early 20th century--of a woman dedicated to outward appearances, to decency and propriety, to doing what is expected. And all the while you get the suffocating sense of a person who's becoming more and more lost and empty, trapped in the silences that mark her days. It's told in a series of short chapters--short vignettes, really--and the effect is one that builds layer upon fine layer, like fine br ...more
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
“Her first name was India—she was never able to get used to it. It seemed to her that her parents must have been thinking of someone else when they named her. Or were they hoping for another sort of daughter? As a child she was often on the point of inquiring, but time passed, and she never did.”

That last phrase sums up her story, that she was often on the point of something, but time passed and something else intervened.

India Bridge was what might now be called a whitebread girl, raised in th
This is absolutely the funniest book I have read in ages! The humor lies primarily in the prose, but what the characters do is funny too. The humor is satirical, but never nasty.

The characters are kind, and yet at the same time they remain absolutely real. To be able to draw characters that readers will like and are true to life takes talent. Keep in mind though, that nice people are not spared life’s difficulties.

The ending is utterly superb. It will surprise you too. How in the world did the
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, ficciones
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
I'm bewildered that none of you have even shelved this remarkable book, my friends!

I despair.;p

Each tiny chapter is brilliant in its simplicity, yet manages to paint a marvelous and merciless portrait of an American upper-class woman and her family in the 1930's. Suffocating, tragic, hilarious, and in essence still hauntingly relevant.

That's probably also where my vague sense of discomfort stems from. Mrs. Bridge lived in a time that perfectly excused the superficiality of her life, and her '
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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 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
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2016
Yet another book I’ve read this year where the female protagonist is alone in the end. A lifetime comes and goes, people move away or die, and there’s nothing to show for it. Why do I keep reading these books? My fears are showing.

Mrs. Bridge was a small woman in every way: compartmentalized, rigid, and afraid of almost everything. Her sheltered and empty life saunters leisurely through the decades and leads us to the final, almost perfect page. Absolute, helpless, terrifying aloneness. What a
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book – my first 5-star read of 2016! I finished the last few pages sitting in the car while waiting for my son to buy lunch and was almost in tears. I came home and started telling my husband about it and then, of course, I was sobbing.

It’s a perfect read, impeccably written, and unique. The chapters are short and a pleasure to get through. They’re more like vignettes than chapters. Parts of it are funny, other parts are heartbreaking. It’s a perfectly observed story of an upper-mi
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is why I have a job and read books. Being buried in and fixated on domesticity and propriety is just so damn soul-killing. I could have never made it as a 1930s housewife.

I wonder what Mr. Bridge is like.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars rounded down. This was a very charming, simplistic story but for me, a little of that goes a long way. I just couldn't stay engaged and found myself skimming but that's certainly a reflection on me and not the author. Very well written.
Loes Dissel
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This novel consists of short, little stories, funny, sad and very sensitive about suburban life in the 1930s and about trying to be the perfect upper-middle-class housewife and mother.
Great book.
Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished Mrs. Bridge on the last day of my trip to the Midwest. I found this book as a recommendation from Meg Wolitzer in a January 2018 opinion piece in the New York Times titled “In Praise of Evan S. Connell.” The book is told in a series of 117 vignettes, small chapters, many less than a page. These episodes all describe an event in India Bridge’s life from dating to her elder years.

I loved this book and I’m surprised it doesn’t get more praise, but it appears to be a forgotten classic. I
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How does this book do what it does so well?

In tiny, seemingly mundane chapters we follow India Bridge through her marriage, motherhood, and life in upper middle class Kansas City. The book is set in the 1930s-40s, was written in the 1950s, and published in 1959. But it seems timeless. It all unfolds in a subtle, nuanced way that ends up being so much more than the sum of its parts.

I was spellbound. For some reason, it reminds me of a Todd Haynes movie. Or he would be a wonderful director for i
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.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Initially, this novel frustrated me. I wanted Mrs. Bridge to be less narrow-minded, less meek, less prejudiced and less of a snob. I wanted her to wake up and take control of her life.

But once I accepted that this novel is not about an awakening, but a brilliant rendition of Mrs. Bridge dealing with her daily life, I truly appreciated it. I admire what Connell accomplished. And I even sympathize, just a little, with Mrs. Bridge.
Becca Becca
Jul 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Julie  Durnell
3.5 star rating-I struggled with this book, even though Mrs. Bridge was so much like my adored grandmother and very true to that era and lifestyle, BUT there were times I just wanted to shake her.
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chris by: Ryan
Shelves: classics, 2019-reads
Two insomnia-filled nights allowed me to race through this novel, first published in 1959. A character study of a woman's life, this quiet book pulls no punches. A sad and lonely woman, Mrs Bridge will stay with me for a long time. Perfect for a book club discussion! A big thank you to Ryan for bringing this to my attention!
Ginger Bensman
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell is a collection of discrete vignettes that chronical the life of India Bridge, the wife of a prosperous Kansas City attorney and mother of his three children in the 1930s. Mrs. Bridge is a novel that is delicately laced with symbolism and nuance but has no central plot or arc, instead it relies on exquisite refracted observations that are presented in 117 short vignettes each of them one to three pages long. The title, Mrs. Bridge, (an example of the subtle symboli ...more
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
3.5 stars
Ericka Clouther
This was a beautifully-written and enjoyable read, but it's not an easy book to sum up because of its moral ambiguity. Mrs. Bridge is a complete person and you feel for her and for her somewhat mysterious children, listless friends, and servants, though Mr. Bridge is left mostly in the shadows.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Chrissie
Not so good as expected or I wasn't in the right mood to read this book right now, who knows...
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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

Other books in the series

Mr. Bridge & Mrs. Bridge (3 books)
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  • Mr. Bridge & Mrs. Bridge
“ 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.”
“Her first name was India-she was never able to get used to it.” 5 likes
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