Book: Alexander's Bridge

Author: Willa Cartha


Alexander's Bridge
Willa Cartha

Bartley Alexander is a robust, loved and internationally famous bridge architect. He and his wife live a comfortable, distinctive and faithful life in Boston. While working in London, Bartley comes across his former love, a British actress, Hilda, who has never recovered from their romance. A vigorous passion within Bartley is released,causing a strain that his harmonious marriage cannot sustain. 

Social/Historical context:

This Novella was written in 1911. The Alexander's are a fashionable, well traveled and intellectual couple of the period. Much of the inner thoughts of Bartley are given to us while he is on the boat from New York to Liverpool. Cather, before it was fashionable, gives us a sympathetic and rounded look at why a man who seems to have it all would risk everything for the robust passion of his youth. This is an enlightening look at an inwardly conflicted man of any age. 

Writing Style:

Written in third person narrative we are given the view of Bartley from several characters: himself, his lover, his wife, and from his college psychology professor who faithfully studies Bartley and Bartley's life, but never fully participates in it. The bridge, an obvious metaphor, is used throughout the book to represent Bartley's future. His current work, a bridge in Canada, is too large and Bartley worries incessantly that the design will not sustain the weight of the bridge's enormity, but he feels pressured to continue the project.

My Thoughts:

This is a quick read by a much loved author. I found it beautifully sympathetic toward a subject I typically have little sympathy for, adultery. I walk away with more tolerance for the men I have known who struggle with this temptation. The metaphor of the bridge, while perfect, is really too perfect. The impending plot conclusion hung over me, preventing my emotional abandonment in the characters. I became Professor Wilson, studying Bartley in an intellectual way rather than diving in and experiencing life with him. This was all the more distasteful because Professor Wilson was the character I had the least sympathy for. Embracing my condemnation for Wilson and then behaving like him, forced me to face the less obvious lesson Cather teaches me about judging our fellows. It was a subtle but effective twist, which delighted me in the end.

Book Reviewed by Carole Weed

Read other reviews of Popular Fiction novels here

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Book Lovers Club News.

Write a book review and get a web page dedicated to yourself! Click Here

Got an opinion on this book?

Did you read this book too? Got an opinion on it? Share it!


Nice site(I like the eating books concept!)
-Maggie Ball

Dear Ashmita,
Allow me to congratulate you on your constant efforts at keeping the love for literature and the love for reading constant -amongst us netizens by regularly posting quizzes and information as this current read on Pulitzer prizes! Excellent!
Warm wishes,

Thank you Ashmita. And I would like to take this as an opportunity to express my appreciation of the effort that has gone into the making of such a fabulous website.
-Amrita Dutta

I would like to take an opportunity to congratulate you for all your efforts in creating such an insightful and informative Group ( Book Review Circle) It is surely a great platform to gather and learn more about like-minded people.
-Jai Prakash Dangwal

This was really a wonderful piece of information. It was enriching and educating. Thank You.

I am amazed at the number of reviews and the wide range of books you have read and written about. Really impressive!

Without the educative literary information from you I feel spiritually dry. Nice to hear from you.
-Palashpriya Bose Jaiswal

It was interesting to know about the significance and use of diary entries in the world of writing. I read something like this for the first time, so I thank and congratulate you for your choice of topic :-)