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Mr Bridge Paperback – Sep 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 367 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; Reissue edition (Sept. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865470545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865470545
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 620,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A successful lawyer in 1930's Kansas City, Walter Bridge has difficulty understanding his wife's dissatisfaction and his children's rebelliousness.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Since reading Mrs. Bridge [see my 5 star review] I have been meaning to read Mr. Bridge to get the complete picture of this marriage and family . I am not disappointed for this is every bit as good as the former. Again told in a series of snap shots of this rather reserved, rather limited man's life and again the total is much more than the parts. The depression of the 1930s does not seem to have effected this comfortable middle class household. Mr. Bridge is a successful, respected lawyer in Kansas City. They have no money or health problems. Their lives should full of joy and thanksgiving, yet this is not the case. Mr. Bridge is a dreary, unimaginative soul: he gives his family share certificates for Christmas on condition that he manages them! He does however love his wife and family, but can not bring himself to tell them so.
This is a moving portrait of a couple growing old together free from the usual worries of life , but at the same time growing steadily apart. If only they could open up to each other, then their lives would be so much better. But they simply can not.
While this is an emotional tale it is not all doom and gloom. There is humour and several lighthearted passages. Mrs. Bridge was first published in 1959 and Mr. Bridge some 10 years later so are they still relevant? I really think so and I wonder how many couples today live similar unfulfilled lives. If The Bridges are new to you then I suggest starting with Mrs. Bridge. If you have already read Mrs. Bridge then I guarantee that you will delight in this one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 34 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
A Stunning Work of Realism 29 April 2002
By "botatoe" - Published on
Format: Paperback
Evan S. Connell's "Mr. Bridge" stands, together with its companion novel, "Mrs. Bridge", as one of the outstanding works of Twentieth century American fiction. The two works, taken together, form the brilliantly wrought portrait of an upper middle class marriage in the years preceding and encompassing World War II. Linear in its narrative and meticulously realistic in its style, "Mr. Bridge" tells the story of Walter Bridge, a financially successful, but emotionally stunted, lawyer who lives out his proper married life in the wealthy Mission Hills suburb of Kansas City.
Mr. Bridge recognizes that his life did not begin until he knew his wife, India Bridge. His marriage is, in this sense, important to him. But he cannot articulate his deep feelings for his wife and, ultimately, gives up trying to express any emotion at all. "So the years passed, they had three children and accustomed themselves to a life together, and eventually Mr. Bridge decided that his wife should expect nothing more of him. After all, he was an attorney rather than a poet; he could never pretend to be what he was not."
Cold and emotionally repressed, Mr. Bridge spends all of his time at the office, becoming involved with his family only when necessary to ensure that proper middle class respectability is maintained. He spends his time visiting the bank, scrutinizing his stock certificates and counting his profits. Indeed, he is so focussed on wealth that he surprises his wife and children with stock certificates of Kansas City Power & Light on Christmas morning, only to take the gifts back into his possession so that he can properly manage them.
Manipulative and controlling, Mr. Bridge persuades his reluctant daughter, after she has won a contest, to accept a pony as a prize, even though she would much rather have a bicycle. When the day comes to accept the prize, "Mr. Bridge could not attend the presentation ceremony because he was again spending Saturday at the office." Like his self-centered Christmas present of utility company stock, this prize, too, becomes cheerless for his daughter because of his need to impose his will.
Deeply bigoted, Mr. Bridge cannot tolerate Jews or Blacks very well. When he has an opportunity to take investment advice from an obviously successful Jewish stockbroker, Mr. Bridge, instead, becomes offended by the man's ethnicity and ostensible pretension to be a successful upper middle class man like himself. Reluctantly shaking the man's hand, Mr. Bridge "could hardly restrain a shudder." Resonating with antisemitic feeling, "he withdrew his hand, which came away stickily. He wanted to wash it. His hand felt moist and unhealthy, as if during those few seconds it had become infected." Similarly, when his wife shows him horrifying pictures of a brutal lynching in the South, his only reaction is to ask, "what was this fellow doing that he shouldn't have been doing?"
A fiercely conservative man, with political views as deeply repressive as his stunted emotions, he cannot tolerate President Roosevelt. He even suggests that while Hitler was insane, "some of his ideas were sensible."
Indeed, the repressed feelings of Mr. Bridge find their darkest allusions in his feelings about his daughters, feelings that suggest powerful undercurrents of the sexuality that is absent from his marriage. Seeing his grown daughter, Carolyn, one night posing naked in front of a mirror, he cannot get her out of his mind. "He reminded himself that she was his daughter, but the luminous image returned like the memory of a dream."
"Mr. Bridge", like its companion novel, "Mrs. Bridge", is a stunning work of realism, a crystalline pure narrative of a marriage without feeling, a life without love, a man without the ability to move outside the bounds of middle class probity and respectability.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
the best 6 Sept. 2007
By electra wilson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It took some time for me to get to this review for a simple reason: I so tremendously enjoyed both Mrs. and then Mr.Bridge. that I wanted to make sure I said the right thing to encourage everyone to also feast on these wonderful American novels.
Both these books are so beautifully written, so carefully honed, so excellently edited and are such remarkable windows into a past generation, they cannot be dismissed for any reason.
Do not hesitate to indulge yourself.
So much can be said about the emotions stirred (from anger and sadness to outright laughter) by this upper middle class couple, so typical for their generation, it would be frivolous to try to convince with more words. There are already multiple 5-star reviews here. Believe them.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Style and Substance 26 Jan. 2008
By Tom Bruce - Published on
Format: Paperback
I became aware of this book while looking for something good to watch on TV and came upon the movie "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge" starring Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. I watched a bit of the film, then checked the TV guide and found that it was based on the books "Mr. Bridge" and "Mrs. Bridge." The movie looked good, so I immediately turned it off while vowing to get the books then watch the film. "Mrs. Bridge" was written ten years earlier than the "Mr.," so I decided to read it first. Immediately, I became aware of the style Connell chose in writing this book. It is not a story, per se, but a series of 117 brief anecdotes - many as short as one to three paragraphs, a few three or four pages long. These tell the story of Mrs. Bridge, wife of a prominent lawyer and mother of three, who lives in a well-to-do neighborhood of Kansas City, is part of the country club social set, and spends most of her day trying to find something interesting to do in the years between the two World Wars. She has household help, so nothing to do on the homefront, except for one night a week when she has to cook dinner - usually a casserole. Her days are made up of shopping for non-essentials, like toys, which she decides you no longer play with, but operate. She has lunch in the mall with friends or alone, watches her children grow and go their own way, and sits around the home at evening listening to the radio and watching her husband read the newspaper before he goes to bed early, because of another busy day at the office tomorrow. The anecdotes are in chronological order and this is a fast and fascinating read. Mrs. Bridge feels sorry for herself, probably more than we do for her. Her life is almost expressionless. There is very little emotional connection between her, her husband, and their three children. There is no doubt that they love each other, but they have no means to relay their feelings. Their life just goes on in sensible fashion, day to day. I don't mean to leave the impression that the book is boring, because it is not. It might inspire us all to tell somebody that we love them. How great is that. Now, on to "Mr. Bridge."
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Great 13 Oct. 2008
By Cosmoetica - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mrs. Bridge, the lead of the first book, written in 1959, is named India, and she falls in love with Walter, her husband, and they have two daughters, Ruth and Carolyn, and a son, Douglas. Walter is a lawyer and the second book, Mr. Bridge, is from his point of view, and was written in 1969. This decade difference shows. Mr. Bridge is the longer, more complex work, and while it covers many of the same incidents as Mrs. Bridge there are divergences. For instance, Mrs. Bridge focuses more heavily on the family life, and in it we witness the death of Mr. Bridge, and the ascension of Douglas to family head, just as the Second World War starts. Mr. Bridge focuses on his work, politics, and a wider range of social topics. The first book checks in at 117 chapters and 246 pages, while the second is a heftier 141 chapters and 367 pages.

That said, both are great books. Period. If you want character development, poetic moments, insight, a portrait of a certain time and place, these two books cannot be beat. The Bridges are petty, refined, bigoted, caring, aloof, devoted, rich, yet simple people. In a sense it is almost impossible to review one without the other. Significantly, both books start off with the wooing and marriage of both. It is as if the books' titles signify not only who are the main characters, but what they are. Both characters define themselves by their spouse, and, de facto, all we know, or need to know, about them revolves around their married personae. The only thing more important to the couple than each other seems to be what others think of them. In Mrs. Bridge it is phrased this way: `She brought up her children very much as she herself had been brought up, and she hoped that when they were spoken of it would be in connection with their nice manners, their pleasant dispositions, and their cleanliness, for these were qualities she valued above all others.'
Accordingly, these are not standard novels. There are no great, overreaching arcs. They are more like `blackout sketches'. Yet, each sketch is sort of like a minor point in the characters' lives, and each point paints a mere portion of the canvas. In this way I am reminded of the Pointillist style of painting. In both books we get essentially the same portraits of the two main characters, albeit slightly parallaxed. Mrs. Bridge is a feeler and Mr. Bridge a thinker. She realizes, at some level, the emptiness of their existence. He does not, at least not as deeply....Yet, Connell does not descend into caricature. Mr. Bridge thinks very ill of both blacks and Jews, as does his wife (to a lesser degree), yet is shown doing acts of kindness and charity for individual blacks and Jews. Then, he turns around and questions the motives of a lynching victim, and that of the first black girl who wants to pledge at Carolyn's sorority, or reacts queasily to the very presence of a Jewish investor, and wonders if Hitler was all bad, and not in the purest philosophic sense. Similarly, in her book, Mrs. Bridge has many moments of good and bad personal traits exposed: She is curiously fond of a young black girl who is friends of the children, she is utterly clueless as to the world of male bullying, she is scandalized at the thought of a dramatic presentation of Tobacco Road coming to town, and she floats through Europe until the Nazis invade Poland. Perhaps her defining moment comes when she discovers Douglas is looking at a dirty magazine, by going through his clothes while getting the laundry ready. He discovers her snooping: `He had followed her across the room and was now standing on the opposite side of the desk with his fists clenched behind his back. Seeing him so tense she thought that if she could only manage to rumple his hair as she used to do when he was a small boy everything would be all right. Calmly, and a little slyly, she began easing toward him.

Seeing that she was after him he also moved to keep the desk between them.'

Simply put, perfectly realized moments like this are no longer being published in contemporary fiction. Neither is the clarity. Poetry in fiction is not attained by over-the-top description nor baroque sentences straining toward Victoriana, but by the juxtaposition of the singularly beautiful, even if alone mundane, with another singular beauty. Yet, these moments, these points, alone give no insight, but arrayed in their respective clusters, then played off of each other in both books, they form two brilliant portraits, whose ends are excellent. Her book ends with mundane torture and his with continued delusion- fitting purgatories for both. Ah!, to recall more than just the art in a piece of art is always a great pleasure, and after getting neither the more nor the artwork in Henry Miller, thankfully Evan S. Connell restores faith in the way things should be in good art. In Miller, inherently exciting things are made to wallow in the worst sort of stupor and dullness, whereas Connell takes innately dull material, and weaves intimately exciting portraits by what he focuses on, and how. His poetry is bad, his short fiction wildly erratic, but these two books are aptly deserving of the appellation great. Damn, it feels good to write that!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Introduce yourself to Mr. Bridge -- and Mr. Connell 30 Mar. 2000
By Joseph W. Smith III - Published on
Format: Paperback
Too bad this little gem isn't better known! I came to it through the Merchant-Ivory film "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge," which combines both this and its twin, "Mrs. Bridge." "Mr. Bridge" is possibly the gentlest satire I've ever read -- looking piteously but critically at an upper-middle-class businessman in the 1940s who loves money and stocks so much that he actually gives each member of his family (including the kids!) shares in Kansas City Power and Light for Christmas. Somewhat reminiscent of Ishiguro's "Remains of the Day" in its sympathetic but potent indictment of a man who stakes everything on "business" and has absolutely no understanding of himself. Brilliantly characterized and beautifully written, this is a treasure not to be missed. The final chapter is virtually perfect.
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