The novel is the story of two people who meet and fall in love but take a conscious decision not to spend the rest of their lives together. It is celebrating the concept of an ideal love which transcends the mundane and attains a spiritual quality. Francesca Johnson is an ordinary house wife, at the first glance, whose life revolves around her husband and two children. When she meets Robert Kincaid, the National Geographic photographer, she finds herself talking about things which she hasn’t in all her years of marriage to Richard. Robert Kincaid is gentle, sensitive and very masculine. Francesca is a woman who believes in romance and loves Yeats but still holds on to her strong familial ties. The attraction between the two of them becomes inevitable and the eroticism is characterized in a classy and subtle manner. The climax of the novel happens when they decide not to be together, this puts the book high up on a pedestal and sets it a class apart from the others in the same category. Waller has a clear win over his contemporaries with this best seller.
The story is set in the 1960s and the place is a farm land in Iowa. The free spirited Kincaid meets the farmer woman Francesca over here and the struggle of the times in which the story was set is clearly portrayed. A romantic at heart Francesca is a woman who holds on to her values of keeping her family together. A deep affair of the heart is very compelling to give in to but she fights the struggle within her and curbs the urge to run out of the car where she was with Richard and join Kincaid in his truck at the intersection.
The book is lyrical and the words lead to images ever so smooth. “In a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once, no matter how many lifetimes you live” The picturesque setting with the beautiful bridges in Iowa and the conversation between Robert and Francesca along with the exotic description of their love affair of four glorious days is sheer poetry.
I have found myself recommending this book to all I come across. It is not just another love story. The Bridges of Madison County is poignant in sentiments and the language is sheer magic. This along with the message that it leaves behind almost lift it up to the stature of a classic.
Book Reviewed By Asha Francis
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