The Invisible Bridge is a novel about one young man’s journey from adolescence into manhood, on the eve of World War II. I cannot remember who recommended that I read this book, so I am unable to thank them for the recommendation! Although, I would have asked why they failed to mention the book’s length, which is over 700 pages. That was probably not the smartest book to start with for a Cannonball Read.
The story centers on a young man, Andras Levi, who is about to travel from Budapest to Paris for architecture school in 1937. It is clear Andras comes from a wonderful home with loving parents and two fantastic brothers. His family was not wealthy, but could afford small luxuries. They were an average family living in Hungary, and they were also Jewish. Throughout the novel, we get to know Andras’s family and see just how devoted they are to each other.
The tale spans almost a decade, and we experience both good times and bad with Andras. He is a naive young man at first, but is naturally talented and a quick learner. Extremely dedicated to his studies, Andras never lets obstacles or the growing antisemitism of the time stand in his path. We experience the beauty of Paris, and then continue on with Andras as Europe quickly descends into war. It is hard to be happy for Andras even when things are going his way, as we know of the horrors that could be in store for him.
Although the length of the book was a bit off putting, I was immediately grabbed by the narration and descriptions of places. I have never been to Budapest, but I really got a sense of the city from the book. The characters are very likeable and we want them to survive. There are secrets and lies that Andras stumbles upon, surrounding some of his new friends, and a very special woman. There is (of course) a love story, a separation, a child, etc. The first half of the novel is part soap opera and part coming of age, while the second half is pure war and despair.
While this book is L-O-N-G, it is worth it a read. Julie Orringer’s writing is superb, and kept me interested even when the plot stalled out over star-crossed lovers. And although I finished the book a few days ago, my mind keeps wandering back to the story. That is surely the sign of a pretty decent book.I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading about this time period, though I would be sure to tell them about the length of the book first!