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Next Up: The Bridge Of San Luis Rey

The premise of my next book, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, is fascinating.

A suspension bridge built by the Incas in the 1300s in Peru collapses in 1714, causing 5 people to fall to their deaths. A friar witnesses the collapse and goes on a pursuit to determine why God allowed these 5 people to die.

Tons of interesting facts about The Bridge and its author, Thornton Wilder:

  • The novel was published in 1927 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928.
  • The bridge is fictional but it’s based on an Inca road suspension bridge over the Apurimac River in Peru, which was built in 1350 and still usable in the mid 1800s.
  • The novel has been turned into three movies, all sharing the same name: The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The most recent movie (2004) starred Kathy Bates, Robert Deniro and Gabriel Byrne.
  • Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair quoted the novel during his speech at the memorial service in 2001 for September 11 victims.
  • The book was also mentioned during news coverage of the Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007.
  • In addition to appearing on the Time list, the book was rated #37 on the Modern Library list.
  • Thornton Wilder wrote seven novels and dozens of plays, including Our Town, a Pulitzer winner for drama in 1938.
  • He passed away in 1975, at the age of 78.

What did Time say?

In 1714, “the finest bridge in all Peru” collapses and five people plunge to their deaths. Brother Juniper, a Franciscan missionary, decides to track down their individual stories to prove that even what seem to be random misfortunes are consistent with God’s plan. That his discoveries turn out to be more complex will come as no surprise. What may surprise are the beguilements of Wilder’s teasing, ironic, beautifully written tale, unlike anything else in American fiction.

Since The Bridge of San Luis Rey, many novels and movies have followed its pattern: a group of people are killed during a single disastrous event and, through flashbacks, the story explores their lives leading up to the event and how they came together at that moment.

This novel sounds fantastic. Plus, it’s a Pulitzer winner…it has to be good, right? I can’t wait to dig in and see where it takes me.

Any thoughts on The Bridge Of San Luis Rey?

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. I read this in high school, but didn’t care for it. I didn’t think any conclusions were reached about why those particular people died in the collapse. However, I was remarkably immature in high school, and would like to read it again, since most of the meaning of the book probably went right over my head. Will be interested in your comments.

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    July 12, 2012
    • That’s what I seem to be hearing. The book doesn’t answer the questions it proposes. I’ll be interested in seeing what I think about that.

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      July 12, 2012
  2. I read it recently as it was coming up on your blog. It was an interesting read, both the premise & that it’s from Peru, but I’m not sure why it’s in the top 100 books ever. I’ll be interested to see what you bring out of it that perhaps I missed. I expected more cohesion from the premise I think.

    Like

    July 12, 2012
    • Interesting. I guess I’m expecting a little more clarity as well. Hope I’m not let down.

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      July 12, 2012
  3. My book club read it and, while it wasn’t an awful read, almost no one said it was the kind of book they would read again. You are correct in that it doesn’t answer the central question of the story. I think I was just hoping for a little more development of the Brother Juniper character than we get to see from Wilder. I hope you enjoy it. Definitely don’t watch the 2004 movie – unless of course you want something to mock. Our group chose to watch it after we finished the book… and I laughed myself silly!

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    July 12, 2012
    • Good tips on the movie. I love Deniro, so I hate to hear that the movie sucked.

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      July 12, 2012
  4. You have good reason to be excited. I love this novel, one of the best books I read last year. It’s short yet powerful. The story of every character who fell from the bridge are moving. I hope you have fun!

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    July 13, 2012
  5. Granted, I read this years ago, but it’s one of my all-time favorite novels–I think about it often.

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    July 13, 2012
  6. This is a great book. I like how it leaves the puzzle a puzzle – is life accident or plan? Truely we do not know – more than likely it is all an accident. I like how in the end it proves that “love” is something that connects us to the unknown we come from and go back to. It is a great read. The various relationships – mother-daughter, twin brothers, father-daughter, etc. are just great.

    Like

    October 27, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. September 11 & “The Bridge Of San Luis Rey” | 101 Books
  2. The Aurora Tragedy: When Life & Art Intersect | 101 Books
  3. #1 in 2012 | 101 Books

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