Francesca Johnson is a beautiful, lonely Italian woman, married to an American and living in Madison County, Iowa. While her husband and children are away at the state fair, she meets Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer and something of a wild bird, who has come to Madison County to photograph the famous covered bridges there. They spend four days together and both are caught up in the whirlwind of a transcendental and ethereal love affair. And at the end of these four days, Robert asks Francesca to come away with him, but she refuses knowing that he would only feel tied down by her and also because she knows her duty lies in staying with her family. The two never meet nor contact each other ever again, but the time they had spent together leaves an indelible mark on them.
The story is set in Madison County, Iowa in the 1960s. Francesca, an Italian woman marries her husband Richard after the Second World War ends and comes to America with him. The story portrays the alienation that Francesca feels, living in a small farming town. Often in the novel she is shown reminiscing about her life in Naples and all the dreams she had cherished then. She works as a teacher at the local school and tries to introduce the students to poetry, but finds them too crude to appreciate fine poetry.
We also see the way a small town functions. News travels fast in it and soon after Robert arrives in town, news of a long-haired hippie journalist is already doing the rounds.
Although completely a fiction, the book is written in the form of a novelization of a true story. Francesca Johnson writes a detailed account of her affair with Robert Kincaid in her diary and leaves it to her children after her death. Her children then take this diary to the author, so that the true story might be known.
The book is written in an intensely personal style that draws a reader in and touches one profoundly.
It is a very famous book, probably one that figures highly on all best selling lists. But it did not really meet my expectations. There is nothing in the book that we don’t seem to have read before. And I certainly think that the novel was too short for the story to get enough room to blossom. <br>
But that is not to say that the novel was a complete disappointment. I loved the character of Robert Kincaid, probably because I always felt I was a little bit of a wild, free bird myself. And of course, I love the concept of a love that transcends all obstacles and boundaries, a love that survives all.
Book Reviewed By Prerna Gupta
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