Jeremy's Reviews > Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
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's review
Jan 14, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended to Jeremy by: Josh Bucher
Read in May, 2008

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, conveniently slotted into the traditional roles of good guy, bad guy, supporting cast, etc. As the novel moves on the perspective changes and the reader is forced to change the way they think about nearly every person as we learn more and more about them. It seems like Russo truly cares for every one of his characters and wants the reader to as well. He wants to make sure, however, that you know what you're getting into by loving these people, so there flaws are clearly displayed.

Bridge of Sighs is, at it's core, a psychological novel. The character's motives for their actions and their reaction to events are the heart and soul of the novel. The major plot points are often recounted several at a time in single paragraphs, while the build-ups and aftermaths have entire chapters devoted to them. In spite of this fact, Russo manages to make this novel compelling enough that you'll not want to stop reading.

One of the recurring theme's in Russo's work is the creation of characters. We create a role for ourselves through choices that we make on a daily basis. In the end we wind up somewhere we'd have never imagined, playing a role we'd never dreamed. Russo manages to embrace the beauty and peace-of-mind that playing such a role brings us, and at the same time remind us that stepping out of our roles is often the best way to truly be ourselves.
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