Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Bridge to Another Time

If you haven't noticed, there is a new tab at the top of the page titled "Ex Libris." I am going to start filling you in on what I'm reading and that page will contain a running list of what I've read and link to the review posts (like this one). This serves two purposes: 1) you get to find out a little bit more about me and maybe some good book suggestions, and 2) I have something to write about all winter long while quarter-acre hibernates. Books and baby pictures; that's what you're getting this winter.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

The Invisible Bridge is the story of Andras Levi, a Hungarian Jew who leaves his home to study architecture in Paris in the late 1930s. There he finds friendship, love, and a passion for his art while struggling against prejudices, secrets, and the threat of war. As the war escalates and consumes Europe, Andras is required to return to Hungary and then to the harsh world of the forced labor camps. Resourcefulness, luck, and the strength of the love between family and friends pull the characters through unthinkable difficulties and draw the reader into their lives.

The depth and authenticity of the characters made The Invisible Bridge captivating. The triumphs they achieved, the struggles they overcame or succumbed to, and the emotions they experienced all felt real and believable. The period of the book, which begins in 1937 and continues past the end of World War II, is a familiar one in history and literature but Orringer broadens the scope of the times as Andras bears up against the horrors and uncertainties of being conscripted into the labor battalions of eastern Europe.

I found the book to be engaging and powerful. The story spanned more than a decade, but I didn't feel that the author had to hurry the pace to cover that much time. In fact, the pages were rich with day-to-day details of the characters' lives, in times of relative peace and in the midst of heartache, that made the book convincing. Stories of survivors of World War II and the Holocaust, both fiction and historical accounts or memoirs, are among my favorite books to read and The Invisible Bridge did not disappoint.

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