Henry L. Carrigan, Jr.
Richard Russo, Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist and great chronicler of village life in upstate New York, is back with another tale of love and loss, longing and hope, and redemption and reconciliation in this painterly tale.
With the same humor and pathos that turned Empire Falls and Straight Man into bestsellers, Russo’s latest tale—Bridge of Sighs (Knopf; $26.95)—unravels the tangled skein of love, regret, longing, and hope that wraps itself around friends and family in a small upstate New York town. Set both in Thomaston, New York, and Venice, Italy, Russo’s multigenerational tale follows the fortunes of two families, especially the careers of their two sons. Although Louis Charles Lynch and Bobby Marconi come from very different backgrounds, they bond over Bobby’s defense of Lou in elementary school. As they grow older, they drift apart, with Bobby changing his name to Robert Noonan and moving to Venice, where he becomes a world-famous artist. Louis, in the meantime, stays in Thomaston, marries his high school sweetheart, Sarah, also an artist, and helps out his family in their grocery store. Although Louis reluctantly agrees to visit Venice with Sarah, several events converge to alter their plans (including Sarah and Bobby’s possible love for each other) and their lives change in ways that neither could have anticipated. While Russo’s tale gets off to a slow start, and the attempt to tell the parallel stories of Louis and Bobby’s lives is not always successful, Russo’s novel is nevertheless a winning story of the strange ways that parents and children, lovers and friends connect and thrive.