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The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

The Invisible Bridge (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Julie Orringer

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1,3291055,845 (4.17)303
Title:The Invisible Bridge
Authors:Julie Orringer
Info:Knopf (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 624 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
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 by Nicole Krauss (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both of these books are beautifully told novels, set in World War II.
  2. 20
    22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson (RidgewayGirl)
    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)
  4. 00
    Four Mothers: A Novel by Shifra Horn (one-horse.library)

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» See also 303 mentions

English (101)  Norwegian (2)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
I love big books and I can't lie!!

This is a great one to sink into on a summer vacation afternoon...and I was lucky enough to do just that today! Sat out on my porch with a diet pepsi cooling on the coffee table and this book in my hands! It was wonderful!!

This is a WWII story of love and hardship and death and survival. It's one of those that is sometimes hard to read because we know the events in history that this is going to have to bump up against. But, you can't stop reading because of the characters, because you truly care about them, you want to see if they make it and come together again!


The main character is Andras Levi, a Hungarian Jew who has won a prize to become a student of architecture in Paris. That is how the story begins - Andras getting ready to leave Hungary for Paris and his brother Tibor sending him off. But, there is a chance meeting with two people before he makes it to Paris. One is a mysterious older woman who asks him to mail a letter to C. Morganstern in Paris and the other is a kindly gentleman on his way back to Paris from Hungary, a Mr. Novak.

Like all great books - these encounters set up important events and characters. As chance sometimes happens in the interconnectedness of the Jewish world - these encounters lead Andras to life long love and occupation.

It was really interesting reading this from the Hungarian perspective - one that I don't think I have read before. I kept waiting on pins and needles for the awful Paris Jewish roundup that is the basis of Sarah's Key - another amazing WWII book. But, that didn't happen in the scope of this tale. Thank goodness!

Instead, this told the story of what it was like to be a Jew in a country that was part of the Warsaw pact, part of the losing team against the rest of the world. It also told of the kindness of Hungarians and the incredible cruelty. It portrayed the deep divides in the Jewish classes of excess before WWII. This is a story of love and survival.

I LOVED this book! I was transported to an uncertain and emotional world where humans can do so much more that we ever thought - both for good and evil!!

Highly Recommend this one!!! ( )
  kebets | Nov 1, 2014 |
Love story set in Hungary and Paris before/during WWII. Appreciated the family tales and the trusting bonds between friends. As this is a really huge book, start it only when you've got a few days' time and don't have to put it down for too long. ( )
  Milda-TX | Aug 24, 2014 |
I both liked and didn't like this book. It almost made me nervous. I kept waiting for something to happen. Lots of things both good and bad did happen, but it somehow felt unsatisfactory. I would have liked to heard more from the other characters point of view while they were separated from Andras. ( )
  busyreadin | Jul 4, 2014 |
This big yawning novel starts with a simple, young Jewish man named Andras. He’s an aspiring architect from Hungary, who moves to Paris to study. From there we meet Klara and the two begin a tumultuous affair. That covers a tiny splice of the beginning of the novel. After that it’s an exploration of Europe in the 1930s and ‘40s. We see the Germans rise to power, the change in attitude towards the Jewish community across the continent, the other people who are persecuted, etc. It reminded me in a lot of ways of Birdsong, another book that begins with a love story but quickly escalates into an exploration of war and its dehumanizing effect.

Andras and Klara’s romance is certainly central to the whole book, but life gets in the way of their little world. Their troubles and Klara’s past seem so unimportant in the larger scheme of things. As signs of war start building all around them, their options begin to disappear. They realize that whatever happens, if they can stay together they will be alright. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible when your country is at war.

It really feels like two very different books. One tells the story of an ambitious man who falls in love with an older woman. The other is about a Jewish man trying to survive the horrors of World War II in Budapest. Both books are beautiful, but by the end of the novel it’s hard to even recognize the characters you met at the beginning. I suppose that realistically that’s exactly what war does to people. It strips away the things that make them who they are and turns them into something harder. This book shows that transformation in heartbreaking way.

BOTTOM LINE: At times I felt like I couldn’t see the trees for the forest. The writing is beautiful, the story is powerful, but there’s just so much there that it’s easy to get a bit lost. I still loved reading it and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves WWII stories.

“Her starfish pin glittered like a beautiful mistake, a festive scrap torn from an ocean-liner ball, blown across the sea and caught by chance in the dark waves of her hair.”

“The scent of it blew through the channel of the Seine like the perfume of a girl on the threshold of a party. Her foot in its satin shoe had not yet crossed the sill, but everyone knew she was there. In another moment she would enter. All of Paris seemed to hold its breath, waiting.”

“I wouldn’t trade your complication for anyone else’s simplicity.”

“Strange that war could lead you involuntarily to forgive a person who didn’t deserve forgiveness, just as it might make you kill a man you didn’t hate.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Jun 10, 2014 |
Wholly disappointed in this book. It started out strongly with a young Hungarian Jew, Andras, embarking on his architecture studies in Paris, 1937. His brother Tibor is off to Italy to study medicine. In Andras's student years, an incredibly maudlin love affair with an much older woman and the introduction of the woman's unbelievably narcissistic daughter spoiled the rest of the book for me. The brothers' student visas expire and they must return to their homeland. The rest of the novel is the atrocities Hungarian Jews face. The brothers must join different labor battalions, from the Carpathians to Ukraine. In the face of events during the war years, their family tries to stay together. The book was much too sentimental for me. When Andras meets and woos Klara, the story was ruined for me. Although the writing style was good, I thought the author was too wordy. Some of the novel could have been cut. I felt she was manipulative and trying to pull my heartstrings. Some last-minute 'rescues' I felt were implausible, such as the Nazi general pulling Andras from a horrific labor camp to assign him to one to which he could commute from home, or even the love affair and marriage. ( )
  janerawoof | Jun 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 101 (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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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)
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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