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Bridge of Sighs

Click this cover for a(n) Audiobook sample of Bridge of Sighs.

Bridge of Sighs

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Six years after the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize–winning Empire Falls, Richard Russo returns with a novel that expands even further his widely heralded achievement. Louis Charles ("Lucy") Lynch has...
Six years after the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize–winning Empire Falls, Richard Russo returns with a novel that expands even further his widely heralded achievement. Louis Charles ("Lucy") Lynch has...
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Description-
  • Six years after the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize–winning Empire Falls, Richard Russo returns with a novel that expands even further his widely heralded achievement. Louis Charles ("Lucy") Lynch has spent all his sixty years in upstate Thomaston, New York, married to the same woman, Sarah, for forty of them, their son now a grown man. Like his late, beloved father, Lucy is an optimist, though he's had plenty of reasons not to be—chief among them his mother, still indomitably alive. Yet it was her shrewdness, combined with that Lynch optimism, that had propelled them years ago to the right side of the tracks and created an "empire" of convenience stores about to be passed on to the next generation. Lucy and Sarah are also preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy, where his oldest friend, a renowned painter, has exiled himself far from anything they'd known in childhood. In fact, the exact nature of their friendship is one of the many mysteries Lucy hopes to untangle in the "history" he's writing of his hometown and family. And with his story interspersed with that of Noonan, the native son who'd fled so long ago, the destinies building up around both of them (and Sarah, too) are relentless, constantly surprising, and utterly revealing. BRIDGE OF SIGHS is classic Russo, coursing with small-town rhythms and the claims of family, yet it is brilliantly enlarged by an expatriate whose motivations and experiences—often contrary, sometimes not—prove every bit as mesmerizing as they resonate through these richly different lives. Here is a town, as well as a world, defined by magnificent and nearly devastating contradictions.

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  • From the book

    Berman Court

    First, the facts.

    My name is Louis Charles Lynch. I am sixty years old, and for nearly forty of those years I've been a devoted if not terribly exciting husband to the same lovely woman, as well as a doting father to Owen, our son, who is now himself a grown, married man. He and his wife are childless and likely, alas, to so remain. Earlier in my marriage it appeared as if we'd be blessed with a daughter, but a car accident when my wife was in her fourth month caused her to miscarry. That was a long time ago, but Sarah still thinks about the child and so do I.

    Perhaps what's most remarkable about my life is that I've lived all of it in the same small town in upstate New York, a thing unheard of in this day and age. My wife's parents moved here when she was a little girl, so she has few memories before Thomaston, and her situation isn't much different from my own. Some people, upon learning how we've lived our lives, are unable to conceal their chagrin on our behalf, that our lives should be so limited, as if experience so geographically circumscribed could be neither rich nor satisfying. When I assure them that it has been both, their smiles suggest we've been blessed with self-deception by way of compensation for all we've missed. I remind such people that until fairly recently the vast majority of humans have been circumscribed in precisely this manner and that lives can also be constrained by a great many other things: want, illness, ignorance, loneliness and lack of faith, to name just a few. But it's probably true my wife would have traveled more if she'd married someone else, and my unwillingness to become the vagabond is just one of the ways I've been, as I said, an unexciting if loyal and unwavering companion. She's heard all of my arguments, philosophical and other, for staying put; in her mind they all amount to little more than my natural inclination, inertia rationalized. She may be right. That said, I don't think Sarah has been unhappy in our marriage. She loves me and our son and, I think, our life. She assured me of this not long ago when it appeared she might lose her own and, sick with worry, I asked if she'd regretted the good simple life we've made together.

    Though our pace, never breakneck, has slowed recently, I like to think that the real reason we've not seen more of the world is that Thomaston itself has always been both luxuriant and demanding. In addition to the corner store we inherited from my parents, we now own and operate two other convenience stores. My son wryly refers to these as "the Lynch Empire," and while the demands of running them are not overwhelming, they are relentless and time-consuming. Each is like a pet that refuses to be housebroken and resents being left alone. In addition to these demands on my time, I also serve on a great many committees, so many, in fact, that late in life I've acquired a nickname, Mr. Mayor--a tribute to my civic-mindedness that contains, I'm well aware, an element of gentle derision. Sarah believes that people take advantage of my good nature, my willingness to listen carefully to everyone, even after it's become clear they have nothing to say. She worries that I often return home late in the evening and then not in the best of humors, a natural result of the fact that the civic pie we divide grows smaller each year, even as our community's needs continue dutifully to grow. Every year the arguments over how we spend our diminished and diminishing assets become less civil, less respectful, and my wife believes it's high time for younger men to shoulder their fair share of the responsibility, not to mention the attendant abuse. In principle I heartily agree,...
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo continues to plumb the depths of decaying small towns in the Northeast U.S., unearthing hard-won truths and heartrending revelations. The talented Arthur Morey perfectly matches the even tone and pacing of the narrative as the listener is drawn into the life of the unfortunately nicknamed Lou C. (Lucy) Lynch and his best friend, artist Bobby Marconi. Morey's portrayal of the laconic and introspective Lucy is juxtaposed with his take on Marconi and his energetic life in Venice. Humorous, insightful, and haunting, Morey's delivery of this portrait of Main Street America is both elegant and sublime. R.O. (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
  • Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World

    "Russo's attention to the currents of friendship and family life, the conflicts, anxieties and irritations that mingle with affection and loyalty, make Bridge of Sighs a continual flow of little revelations . . . a story of constantly evolving complexity and depth . . . It's Russo's most intricate, multifaceted novel . . . enormous and enormously moving."

  • Kyle Smith, People (4 stars) "A great American story . . . Beautiful, funny, profound and, in the end, quietly devastating. It's a book built to endure."
  • Vince Passaro, O Magazine "Russo makes sexual ambiguity feel homey and familiar, and he does it here with consequences more emotionally weighty than ever before. His novels have that pleasurable roominess of books rich in story and quick in prose style, but in Bridge of Sighs, he crosses from bittersweet comedy to the realm of tragedy."
  • Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today "His most ambitious and best work."
  • Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly "Engrossing . . . Russo writes about [his] characters--their fistfights, bar nights, secret kisses, self-delusions--with such warmth that, whether it turns out to be a hellhole or heaven on earth, you're grateful to be back on his turf."
  • Janet Maslin, New York Times "A novel of great warmth, charm and intimacy . . . richly evocative and beautifully wrought."
  • Mameve Medwed, Boston Sunday Globe "[A] magnificent, bighearted new novel [and] an astounding achievement . . . From its lovely beginning to its exquisite, perfect end, Russo has written a masterpiece."
  • Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., Library Journal "A winning story of the strange ways that parents and children, lovers and friends connect and thrive."
  • Kirkus, starred review "Nobody now writing rivals Russo at untangling the knots of family connection, love and sexuality, ambition and compromise, fidelity and betrayal that link and afflict a formidable gallery of vividly observed, generously portrayed characters . . . A wise, uplifting book: a big-hearted, often comic, yet sturdily realistic testament to the resiliency of ordinary people who surprise us, and themselves, by coping, rebuilding and moving on. Rich, confounding and absorbing--utterly irresistable."
  • Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist "Here is the novel Russo was born to write . . . Coursing with humor and humanity . . . it is a seamless interweaving of childhood memories, tragic incidents, and unforgettable dialogue."
  • Jeffrey Frank, Publishers Weekly, signature review "[A] splendid chronicle . . . Russo has a deep and real understanding of stifled ambitions and the secrets people keep, sometimes forever. Bridge of Sighs, on every page, is largehearted, vividly populated and filled with life from America's recent, still vanishing past."
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