Monday, February 21, 2011

Review - The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Title: The Invisible Bridge (Amazon)
Author: Julie Orringer
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Date Released: 2010
Pages: 597
Genre: Adult Fiction

Julie Orringer’s astonishing first novel—eagerly awaited since the publication of her heralded best-selling short-story
collection,
How to Breathe Underwater (“Fiercely beautiful”—The New York Times)—is a grand love story and an epic tale of three brothers whose lives are torn apart by war.

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de Sévigné. As he becomes involved with the letter’s recipient, his elder brother takes up medical studies in Modena, their younger brother leaves school for the stage—and Europe’s unfolding tragedy sends each of their lives into terrifying uncertainty. From the Hungarian village of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the lonely chill of Andras’s garret to the enduring passion he discovers on the rue de Sévigné, from the despair of a Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labor camps and beyond,
The Invisible Bridge tells the unforgettable story of brothers bound by history and love, of a marriage tested by disaster, of a Jewish family’s struggle against annihilation, and of the dangerous power of art in a time of war. (Goodreads)

Kim’s take –

An incredibly powerful first novel for an author. Just the amount of research into the state of the country at that time makes the story seem so real. The book is about Andras, a Hungarian Jew, who goes to Paris on a scholarship to study architecture in 1937. Things start going downhill for him as soon as he steps off of the train. He bravely perseveres through events which would have led others to give up their quest for education. He meets so many diverse characters throughout his time in Paris which will all have intertwining stories and secrets. He also begins a forbidden, complicated, and undying love affair with an older woman, Klara.

Forced back to Hungary due to the approach of WWII, the lives of Andras, his family, and friends becomes increasingly tragic and harrowing. Life in Hungary becomes increasingly oppressive and heartbreaking for the Jewish people. Corruption and bribery run rampant and many Jews who were well off lose everything for some semblance of safety. When Andras shockingly makes it through his first draft at a forced labor camp, he unbelievably is called on twice more to serve. It is shocking to me that anyone actually made it out alive since the conditions are horrific and barbaric. The story is so absorbing and descriptive. At times it was heartwarming and others left me wanting to cry at the unrelenting misfortune. So many times, I thought it couldn’t get worse for them but I was proved wrong again and again.

I love historical fiction and Hungary has never come to mind when thinking of WWII and the persecution of Jews. I loved the book and think anyone who reads it will have this story on their mind for quite some time.

Kim's Rating - 5/5

3 comments:

  1. I've never heard about this one, but it sounds SO powerful! Fabulous review...I'm adding this to my list of must-read books :)

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  2. It sounds like a wonderful book, thanks for the amazing review and for putting this book out there :)

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  3. Sounds amazing,
    Thanks for the review!

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