Monday, July 09, 2007

Mrs. Bridge

Mrs. Bridge is a novel by Evan S. Connell. The book is difficult to describe. It is made up of a series of vignettes that cover the married life of India Bridge. Some novels that take place over a long period of time with large gaps of time between chapters tend to be uneven and have poor character development. This story progresses evenly and makes sense. Some chapters are comedic episodes, others are introspective but each chapter reveals the evolution of time on the characters. It starts with the marriage of India to Mr. Bridge and continues until the end.

Many of the comedic chapters reminded me of the BBC comedy Keeping Up Appearances. Mrs. Bridge is an upper middle class resident of a mid-western town. Her house, personal appearance, and children are all properly arranged, dressed, and mannered. The bathrooms are stocked with guest towels for when the guests arrive. Mrs. Bridge always wears stockings. Her children have impeccable table manners (mostly). Despite doing everything properly, Mrs. Bridge has an inner conflict that many women can relate to.

The story is not all comedy. There is a balance of introspection and thoughtfulness that resonates with real life. There is a touch of sadness to the story. Mrs. Bridge seems to be aloof and floats from one day to the next. Her own sense of propriety, and sometimes life events, keeps her from pursuing many personal interests.

This book may not be for everyone, but I found it well worth the time to read. There is no overt plot, climax, or resolution. In some ways it is like reading someone's personal journal. There is a movie out starring Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. I am curious how they developed the script and what changes they made to make it watchable.

Book Rating: 4 Stars

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