I don't write book reviews. I have neither the time nor the energy - I am glad if it all comes together in a perfect storm and I can do everything I have to and some of the things I want to.
But every once in a while comes a story that won't leave long after I finished reading it, a story that will dance in the obscure corners of my mind like a silken ribbon, slowly weaving into moments of my day.
This is that story.
It is a long book, but one of the shortest I have read in quite some time. From the first two sentences ("Later he would tell her that their story began at the Royal Hungarian Opera House, the night before he left for Paris on the Western Europe Express. The year was 1937; the month was September, the evening unseasonably cold.") I knew I was hooked; the brilliance of Julie Orringer's writing shone through in just those thirty-nine words, gracefully setting the stage for a haunting yet uplifting story of love and survival without resorting to melodrama. I sat with Andras and Tibor at the Budapest Opera while they listened to Tosca, I walked along the platform with Andras as he waited for his train to pull out of the station in Vienna, and admired the architecture of Paris with him as he first stepped onto its busy streets. I inhaled her words as if they were air. As the story progressed, I felt lucky to have never had to face the challenges they encountered.
The characters were challenged by the political circumstances of the late 1930s and the Second World War, enduring incredible conditions with humanity and strength. I am certain I was not the only one who wondered how they (and many others like them who were faced with such adversity) were able to persist and find the strength to hope.
I fancy myself a writer and hope to be published someday, yet novels like The Invisible Bridge remind me I have a long road ahead.
(Other novels that stayed with me, some for decades, are on my bookshelf, just an inch to the right)