by Evan S. Connell
Knopf, 1969. 369 pgs. Literature
Mrs. Bridge is a beautifully written, often overlooked, classic by one of America’s best mid-century writers. It is an intense character study that shows the personality of the lovely India Bridge over the course of her life. Told in a series of exquisite vignettes, Mrs. Bridge marries Mr. Bridge, raises two children, suffers being an empty-nester, and then lives alone for the remainder of her life. The reader gets a privileged insight into India’s daydreams, her reasons for conformity, and her staunch loyalty to her family and husband. It is not always a happy book, but each sentence is a worthwhile read.
If you are a lover of the classics, if you like character-focused works and superb language, you cannot miss this book. Fans of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway or Jane Austen will be especially pleased to find another author that satisfies their desire for perfect, well-plotted language. In my estimation, this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, and I can’t help but run to the bookshelf to grab it if anyone ever mentions a love of quiet, slow works. Most have not had the pleasure of reading it, and are grateful for the nudge. Follow it up with the equally charming Mr. Bridge; you’ll find the same story, shaped from a different perspective.