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The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
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The Invisible Bridge (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Julie Orringer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5281164,810 (4.14)321
Member:writestuff
Title:The Invisible Bridge
Authors:Julie Orringer
Info:Knopf (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 624 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:NYT Most Notable(2010), Orange Prize Nominee, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Hungary, BEST of 2012, MUST READ, 2012 Read

Work details

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (2010)

  1. 20
    The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both of these books are beautifully told novels, set in World War II.
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    RidgewayGirl: Both novels deal with Eastern Europe during WWII and with the stress that war and separation puts on a marriage.
  3. 00
    Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Milda-TX)
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    Four Mothers: A Novel by Shifra Horn (TomWaitsTables)
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Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
The Invisible Bridge – Julie Orringer
5 stars

Sometimes, there is a final deciding factor that puts a book into the five star category. In the case of The Invisible Bridge, the book moved from four stars to five because I could not stop thinking about it. Two weeks after reading this book, I’m still thinking about the characters, the setting, the art and the historical background of this novel.
It is the story of Andras Levi, a young Hungarian Jew who immigrates to Paris to study architecture on the eve of World War Two. I was fascinated by the detailed descriptions of life in Budapest and Paris. I learned aspects of art and architecture that are still sending me to google for more information. In addition to the details of Andras’ intellectual life there is his deep affection towards his brothers, his loyal friendship with other Jewish students and his complicated, passionate love affair with an older woman. Even before the war begins, the book depicts the consequences of widespread anti-Semitism affecting Andras in his native Hungary and in Paris. In the end, all of the growing success and future hopes of the Levi brothers come crashing down into the day to day need for survival. This was a very powerful story; well worth the telling and well worth reading all of the 600 pages.


( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
A good book but I think it could have been great. I've never read or thought about Hungarians during World War II. For that reason it was a new perspective on a well-written topic.
Much of the writing was beautiful but it did get tiresome at times. I'm not sure Andras had a thought that wasn't detailed. As a result the book was too long. Toward the end I cheered (literally) when time jumped ahead five months between chapters. ( )
  nljacobs | Jan 19, 2016 |
The Invisible Bridge begins in 1937 Budapest, on the night before Andras, one of three Jewish brothers, departs for Paris to study architecture. The first third of the book follows Andras and his friends, including the mysterious Klara Morgenstern, an older Hungarian dance teacher. The two quickly fall in love, despite Klara's doubts and her hidden past. As the Nazis start to gain power, Andras and Klara move back to Hungary, trying to find a safe harbor for their new family, even as the German army starts to close in. Given the times and the characters involved, this was destined to be a Holocaust novel. Because the rising threat of Nazism first shows up in small ways , most of the horrors remain in the background for a long time .

Eventually the novel changes to a story of holding on, fighting back, and surviving. Andras is sent to a forced labor camp, first in Subcarpathia, then Transylvania, and later in Ukraine. Rashly, he and a boyhood friend publish a satirical newspaper for the camp. Both of Andras' brothers have also been conscripted into the labor service of the Hungarian Army. Conditions become increasingly oppressive and dangerous for Hungarian Jews as the war advances.

This is a book that takes a while to build interest but it is worthwhile to continue. I had little knowledge of Hungary during the war and the role they played as an ally to Germany. The first part is really a coming of age story and then evolves into a tense account of a family threatened with war and hatred. It's a very powerful and haunting book.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
It was a very slow start for me, and after reading 100 pages I was unsure if I wanted to continue. However as my reading progressed, I was drawn further into the story and came to care deeply for Andras Levi, his family and loved ones. Beautifully written novel—haunting and heartbreaking. ( )
  Bluebird1 | Jan 14, 2016 |
Book on CD performed by Arthur Morey
5***** and ❤

In 1937 Andras Levi, a Hungarian Jew, arrived in Paris with a single suitcase and a scholarship to study architecture. He left behind his parents and two brothers – Tibor, who was saving to attend medical school in Italy, and Matyas, who would leave school to pursue a career as an entertainer. What he found in Paris, however, was the love of his life. The times conspired against the couple – war was on the horizon and past mistakes haunted them. Families were scattered, fortunes spent or confiscated, food was scarce, and yet the familial bonds endured.

Through her writing, Orringer invites the reader into the everyday lives of people who were caught up in historical events of epic proportions. We’ve all read books (fiction and nonfiction) about the atrocities of war, in particular those committed against the Jews during WW2. Seldom have I read a work that so drew me into the lives of the characters as they go about their business, unaware of the storm brewing. I was reminded of Herman Wouk’s Winds of War. I kept checking the time frame wondering when the hammer would fall, because I knew it had to fall. This is an epic romance … an historical novel … a gloriously written testament to the love the author’s grandparents had – for each other, for their families, for their friends. It celebrates the courage of individuals, and shames those who took advantage of the weak. And it shines a light on a corner of Europe that has not been written about frequently.

Arthur Morey does a superb job on the audio book. His facility with the many languages – English, French, Hungarian, German, and Italian – lends authenticity and brings the work to life.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
"The Invisible Bridge" is a stunning first novel, not just in the manner that Orringer's acclaimed short stories seemed to predict, but in a wholly unexpected fashion. Her short fiction is resolutely contemporary, closely — almost obsessively — observed and firmly situated in the time and place we now inhabit. "The Invisible Bridge," by contrast, is in every admirable sense an "ambitious" historical novel, in which large human emotions — profound love, familial bonds and the deepest of human loyalties — play out against the backdrop of unimaginable cruelty that was the Holocaust.
 
Ms. Orringer’s long, crowded book is its own kind of forest, and not every tree needs to be here; her novel’s dramatic power might have been greatly enhanced by pruning. But Andras’s most enduring wish, it turns out, is to create a kind of family memorial. And Ms. Orringer, writing with both granddaughterly reverence and commanding authority, has done it for him.
added by SimoneA | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (May 19, 2010)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julie Orringerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kari RisvikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kjell RisvikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
O tempora! O mores! O mekkora nagy córesz.

O the times! O the customs! O what tremendous tsuris.

-from Marsh Marigold,
a Hungarian Labor Service newspaper,
Banhida Labor Camp, 1939


From Bulgaria thick wild cannon pounding rolls
It strikes the mountain ridge, then hesitates and falls
A piled-up blockage of thoughts, animals, cars and men;
whinnying, the road rears up; the sky runs with its mane.
In this chaos of movement you're in me, permanent,
deep in my consciousness you shine, motion forever spent
and mute, like an angel awed by death's great carnival
or an insect in rotted tree pith, staging its funeral.

-Miklós Radnóti, from "Picture Postcards,"
written to his wife during his death march from Heidenau, 1944


It is
as though I lay
under a low
sky and breathed
through a needle's eye.

-W.G. Sebald
from Unrecounted)
Dedication
For the Zahav brothers
First words
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.
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An unforgettable story of three brothers, of history and love, of marriage tested by disaster, of a Jewish family's struggle against annihilation, and of the dangerous power of art in a time of war.

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