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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bridge of San Luis Rey

by Thornton Wilder

I didn't realize that Thornton Wilder wrote anything but plays. He authored the Pulitzer Prize winning plays, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943), but he also wrote several novels. He won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1928 for The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

When I first listed this book for the By-the-Decade Challenge as my 1920's selection, I thought it was a war story. Even before I read the book, I discovered that I had the story for The Bridge on the River Kwai in mind. Obviously my mind had criss-crossed paths before it ever reached 'The Bridge.'

Wilder's Bridge concerns itself with 5 people who fell to their deaths when Peru's finest bridge collapsed in 1714. A Franciscan monk, Brother Juniper, witnesses the tragedy and begins to wonder if what seemed like random misfortunes were actually part of God's plan. He spends years researching the lives of the five people and then compiles and publishes his findings. The results were unexpected.

I liked this book, both for it's quickness and the questions it posed: Is there an overall plan by an unseen God? Is there a purpose behind tragedy? Wilder doesn't really answer these questions. In fact, he doesn't even address them in so many words, rather the story unfolds and the reader is left asking these questions.

14 comments:

Kay said...

I remember reading this book in high school and it has stayed with me for all these years. Quite a thought provoking book.

Cassie said...

I tried to watch the movie of this book but I was pretty bored so I couldn't finish it. Sounds like the book would be more interesting.

pussreboots said...

I have this book on my TBR. I really should read it!

Carrie K said...

Sounds quite intriguing! I don't remember even hearing of it before. Good. New to me now then.

raidergirl3 said...

I would also think about The Bridge on the River Kwai for this. It sounds really interesting.
You knocked off a lot of lists with this book - how satisfying that is was a good book too.

Framed said...

So glad you enjoyed this book. I must be getting overwhelmed because I'm not even tempted to add it to my list even though it sounds good. Is that a good thing??

Melissa said...

I'm definately adding it to my list. I guess right now I'm into books that actually get me to think about God and the possibilites. I'm finishing Alex Webster and The Gods, and I love it.

Stephanie said...

Sounds really good! I also wanted to apologize for not sending out your book in a timely manner. Time has just slipped away from me this entire year!!

I hope you have received it by now. If not, please let me know!

Dewey said...

A good friend of mine calls this one of her favorite books of all time, and although EVERY time she recommends a book, I love it, I still haven't gotten to this one. Your post is encouraging, though. It sounds like a wonderful book.

DJ said...

Like Kay, I read this in high school and still remember its impact. Your review captures the essence nicely.

Jeane said...

My father had this book in his library, and I read it many many years ago. I think I missed a lot, being a teenager. Thanks for the review! I'm tempted to go back and try it again.

Megan said...

I remember reading this in high school and enjoying it. Reading your review makes me wonder what I'd think if I read it again now. I have a feeling I might enjoy it even more!

Bookfool said...

I thought it was a war novel, also. I've got this one on my shelf, so thanks for an excellent review. You've made me want to pick it up and read it right now.

Greg said...

I read this a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It almost seemed as though Brother Juniper didn't want the deaths to have been in vain; there must have been some purpose for those particular people to be on the bridge at that time. A very thoughtful examination of what it means to be human.