The bridges of Madison county
About the book
Publisher Wolters-Noordhoff (Blackbirds)
Date of publication 1997
Date of first publication 1992
Robert Kincaid goes to Iowa to make some photos of covered bridges in Madison County. ('The bridges of Madison County') This is the reason why Francesca and Robert meet each other. Otherwise they would never seen each other.
Francesca Johnson received a letter from Robert Kincaid. Robert, a photographer for the 'National Geographic'', went to Iowa for a report about the bridges of Madison County. After photographing six covered bridges and searching for another one, he drove through a little village, called Winterset, and he asked the way to the last bridge he needed to photograph. He asked it to Francesca, an unhappily married woman. From the moment she saw him, she was in love with him.
In stead of telling him how to drive to that place, she showed him the way to that bridge. After talking about some things, she invited him for dinner. Her husband and children were away for a week so she was all alone at home that week. After a long evening they said goodbye but Francesca wanted to see him more. So she left a note near the bridge that he was going to photograph. The result was a relationship between these two for a couple of days.
After a few days they said goodbye to each other because her husband and children were coming home. Francesca loved Robert very much but she couldn't leave them although she wasn't happily married. She didn't say anything to her husband. After the death of her husband she tried to locate Robert but she couldn't find him. Several years later she received a packet from Robert: he had left her some stuff after his death. It remembered her to the time with him.
A few years later she died also. She left a letter to her children to tell them about that time. She had not told them about this adventure but she couldn't take it with her in her grave.
Character description / development
Francesca Johnson was an unhappily married woman without an exciting life. By falling in love with Robert she had again a filling up in her life. She went shopping etc. She felt feminine again. But she thought she had to stay because of her responsibility towards her children and husband. So she relapsed into her boring and unexciting life regretting for the fact that she let him go without him.
Robert was an intelligent photographer that lived in his own world. He did what he liked to do. Mostly he was alone on the road for a report. By falling in love his life didn't change a lot. He went his own way, but he needed some company for filling up that emptiness insides him so he took a dog. Robert loved Francesca until his death. She was the only one in his life.
The whole story took place in Winterset, a little village in Madison County in Iowa, in less than a week in August 1965. Around that period adultery wasn't a 'normal' thing. It was a shame. It all happened because Robert was already 52 and still alone. Francesca was unhappily married so she was open to excitement in her life.
Point of view
The story is written in the 3rd person through the eyes of the characters. The writer describes the feelings of the two characters. He can only do that if he is in the character and describes the situation through his eyes.
The theme of this novel is love. Francesca and Robert love each other, but she chooses for her husband and children.
The novel is a love story.
This book is written in the modern period. (1945-….)
Ik vind het een boeiend verhaal, omdat het niet zo langdradig is. Er wordt namelijk een relatie beschreven van enkele dagen, terwijl het voor je gevoel helemaal niet zo kort is. Er wordt wel veel beschreven over die paar dagen, maar Robert James Waller heeft het smeuïg gehouden. Daardoor lijkt het niet zo langdradig en gaat het niet vervelen. Het onderwerp van het boek vind ik best origineel, omdat het niet zo'n ze-leefden-nog-lang-en-gelukkig verhaal is. Het leven is ook niet altijd even makkelijk en leuk. Soms moet je tot iets besluiten waar je niet echt gelukkig mee bent.
Francesca kiest ervoor om niet met Robert mee te gaan en juist bij haar man en kinderen te blijven. Het is natuurlijk heel erg verleidelijk om mee te gaan maar ik snap goed waarom ze bij hen blijft omdat ze hen niet in de steek kan laten, vanwege haar geweten. Ik weet niet zeker of ik datzelfde ook doe in die situatie, maar ik denk dat ik toch ook zou blijven, vanwege de verantwoordelijkheid ten opzichte van je kinderen. Tegenwoordig is het dan wel vrij normaal om wel weg te gaan in die situatie, maar ik vind dat Francesca het goede heeft gedaan, hoe zwaar dat ook is.
Wat ik van het verhaal heb opgestoken is dat je niet altijd naar je zelf moet kijken, maar ook rekening moet houden met anderen. Francesca blijft bewust bij haar man en kinderen ondanks haar grote liefde voor Robert. Je moet niet altijd iets doen uit eigenbelang, maar ook rekening houden met anderen.