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.