I always start writing book reviews by first reading reviews by others. No – I do not do it in hopes to copy opinions or emulate descriptions. I do it to obtain a sweeping sentiment of how others regard the book. It helps me gauge whether I need to be defensive in my review.
It seems I need to be so for The Bridges of Madison County because it has taken quite a rap from readers online. In the book, a sensuous, artistic photographer photographs his way to Iowa, where he meets Francesca Johnson – whose husband and children are conveniently out of town. There is little need to explain what happens next. The writing was sappy, but still beautiful. In many ways, the overdose of sentimental and reflective writing (bordering on mawkish) only echoed the reverie surrounding the male protagonist, Robert Kincaid. It offered sharp contrasts to the utilitarian love of the husband, making it unsurprising that Francesca was drawn to Robert. The storyline could be described as corny, but I found the emotions and responses of Robert and Francesca believable. Their thoughts and actions reflected the reservations of the 1960s, and their pain and suffering seemed true to the aches of love found, and love lost.
I have to admit I could be biased in my review. It is quite difficult to review a book when you have already seen the film adaptation. It is easy to get the sentiments about the film and the book mixed in together. My love of the film (having watched it twice before reading the book) lent positive vibes toward the reading experience. I imagined Francesca Johnson as Meryl Streep, and Robert Kincaid as Clint Eastwood. Meryl Streep’s stellar performance that bagged an Academy Award nomination made Francesca absolutely unforgettable.
In the current trend where ‘mummy-porn’ dominates, this book of 1992 is worth picking up again. And if 50 Shades of Grey can get away with it, I am sure The Bridges of Madison County can.
Contributed by Carmen