Beautifully written, comprised of short chapters that give equal weight to ordinary details and seismic plot developments. The chapter titled "Tuna Salad" epitomizes this aspect Connel's unique storytelling.
The novel is an incisive yet compassionate portrayal of the trap of a 20th century suburban housewife, who ably fills the roles of wife, mother, and member of a suburban social circle, but who never emerges as a person in her own right. Although we learn her name, India, in the book's first sentence, no one calls her by her name in the book.
Mrs Bridge is not a mean person, but her fatal flaw is a lack of empathy that might allow her to genuinely understand or relate to other people. She causes great pain to her own children and to others who don't fit into her community framework. The final image is a perfect illustration of someone whose dependence on other people results in a failure of self reliance.
My only slight criticism is that I would have liked a little bit more backstory about Mrs Bridge's life before her marriage, to show us how she became the person we see move from newlywed to mother of adult children. But otherwise I agree with Meg Wolitzer's rapturous comments about this novel. I look forward to reading the companion, "Mr. Bridge". Connell's writing is so good that I wish he had written companion novels for the three Bridge children too!
A true treasure of class angst
Readers experience day to day in the lives of the Bridge family like the changing of the seasons that are somewhat predictable yet vary day to day. Despite the 1930's backdrop I keenly identified with the characters. The retro aspect was enjoyable - their Lincoln that measured the length of their pantry, the Heywood Duncan's, Mrs. Bridge saying the familiar "It's for the best."Families, like the Bridges, have there hierarchy of members. Mrs. Bridge, the dutiful, unfulfilled wife. The creative son, the secretive and the "good" daughter. Mr. Bridge, the work-at-all-costs for the family. The context of the story reminded me somewhat of the movie "The Help" where one could see the custom of the time for what it was. Here there was less intent to expose upper class behavior than to see into their emotions and desires and disappointment.
Very well-written. A solid yet sympathetic critique of a shallow woman and her era. Loved the short chapter structure. Despite its simplicity, very thought-provoking and interesting.
The empty, surburban life of the upper middle class in America. Of the same time and feel as "Revolutionary Road".
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