The Bridges of Madison County

Very basically `The Bridges of Madison County` is about a photographer, Robert Kincaid who goes to Madison County to photograph some covered bridges for National Geographic. He gets lost, meets a farm wife, Fransesca Johnson, whose family is away  and they have a torrid affair for a week, feeling all of the passion that they’ve never felt before. At the end of the week they part and return to their normal lives but never forget their one true love. So it’s kinda Boy meets girl, boy can’t have girl, boy and girl always wonder what would have been. I am a succor for  love stories and I had wanted to read this one for a long long time. But if truth be told the story was saccharine sweet candy floss romance. (I’d any day prefer love stories in Haruki Murakami..`The Norwegian Wood`, `South of the Border, West of the sun`, where the stories are more realistic n the characters feel for each other despite the weaknesses n foibles…{in Bridges…the 2 characters are painted just too good n just too perfect for each other} & my all time favorite ‘on meeting a 100% perfect girl on a Sunday afternoon’ in which romance happens even without the characters saying as much as hello…Romance after all is a feeling that flows through us…no one can tell us if we are in love…we just know it through n through.) Still….there is a melancholy mystery in the story of Robert and Francesca. What they had for those four days was a lifetime of passion and love. That’s called true love when everything you do and everything you want to do the other person is never away from it though physically the person may be miles apart. Although the couple only met and fell in love in a short four days, their love endured years of the everyday obligations of life and even went with both of them to eternity. Though the couple didn’t see each other for fourteen years after their first encounter, time did not diminish the power of their affection. + it was a breeze to read through at only 64 pages, one of the shortest books I’ve come across. Now waiting to watch the movie starring Clint Eastwood & Meryl Streep which I’ve heard is better than the book. (Lets see ‘cos mostly I prefer books to movies)

These are my favorite passages from the book

~A few weeks ago, I felt self-contained, reasonably content. Maybe not profoundly happy, maybe a little lonely, but at least content. All of that has changed. It’s clear to me now that I have been moving toward you and you toward me for a long time. Though neither of us was aware of the other before we met, there was a kind of mindless certainty humming blithely along beneath our ignorance that ensured we would come together. Like two solitary birds flying the great prairies by celestial reckoning, all of these years and lifetimes we have been moving toward one another. (Robert’s letter to Fransesca)

~The road is a strange place. Shuffling along, I looked up and you were there walking across the grass toward my truck on an August day. In retrospect, it seems inevitable— it could not have been any other way— a case of what I call the high probability of the improbable. So here I am walking around with another person inside of me. Though I think I put it better the day we parted when I said there is a third person we have created from the two of us. And I am stalked now by that other entity. Somehow, we must see each other again. Any place, anytime. (Robert’s letter to Fransesca)

~He took a small drink of tea and watched her. She was about five feet six, fortyish or a little older, pretty face, and a fine, warm body. But there were pretty women everywhere he traveled. Such physical matters were nice, yet, to him, intelligence and passion born of living, the ability to move and be moved by subtleties of the mind and spirit, were what really counted. That’s why he found most young women unattractive, regardless of their exterior beauty. They had not lived long enough or hard enough to possess those qualities that interested him. But there was something in Francesca Johnson that did interest him. There was intelligence; he could sense that. And there was passion, though he couldn’t quite grasp what that passion was directed toward or if it was directed at all.

~He said nothing for a moment. Then: “I scribbled something in my notebook the other day for future use, just had the idea while driving along; that happens a lot. It goes like this: ‘The old dreams were good dreams; they didn’t work out, but I’m glad I had them.’

~Francesca supposed that, for Robert Kincaid, this was everyday talk. For her, it was the stuff of literature. People in Madison County didn’t talk this way, about these things. The talk was about weather and farm prices and new babies and funerals and government programs and athletic teams. Not about art and dreams. Not about realities that kept the music silent, the dreams in a box.

~I don’t like feeling sorry for myself. That’s not who I am. And most of the time I don’t feel that way. Instead, I am grateful for having at least found you. We could have flashed by one another like two pieces of cosmic dust. God or the universe or whatever one chooses to label the great systems of balance and order does not recognize Earth-time. To the universe, four days is no different than four billion light years. I try to keep that in mind. But, I am, after all, a man. And all the philosophic rationalizations I can conjure up do not keep me from wanting you, every day, every moment, the merciless wail of time, of time I can never spend with you, deep within my head. I love you, profoundly and completely. And I always will. (Robert’s letter to Fransesca)

~Understand, I loved your father in a quiet fashion. I knew it then, I know it now. He was good to me and gave me the two of you, who I treasure. Don’t forget that. But Robert Kincaid was something quite different, like nobody I’ve ever seen or heard or read about through my entire life.

The paradox is this: If it hadn’t been for Robert Kincaid, I’m not sure I could have stayed on the farm all these years. In four days, he gave me a lifetime, a universe, and made the separate parts of me into a whole. I have never stopped thinking of him, not for a moment. Even when he was not in my conscious mind, I could feel him somewhere, always he was there. Though we never spoke again to one another, we remained bound together as tightly as it’s possible for two people to be bound. I cannot find the words to express this adequately. He said it best when he told me we had ceased being separate beings and, instead, had become a third being formed by the two of us. Neither of us existed independent of that being. And that being was left to wander. (Fransesca’s letter to her children)

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November 22, 2009. Tags: , , , . Books, Reading, Reflections/Musings.

9 Comments

  1. Harsh replied:

    Liked it a lot.Read each sentence and each paragraph,one after another very slowly,many times going back to the previous one.Didn’t want to miss anything.Very touching.

  2. Gurmeet replied:

    Interesting Ritu … will try read the book sometime .

  3. amit replied:

    Very nice Ritu.
    would like to read the book now.

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  8. Lakesha replied:

    Having read this I thought it was very informative.
    I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this information together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a
    lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it
    was still worth it!

    • ritusthoughtcatcher replied:

      Hi Lakesha…thankyou so much for your wonderful words & I’m so glad that you appreciate what I write 🙂

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