Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer - 2010 - 782 Pages

Paris in July 2019 - Week Two

“To be in Marseille, not Paris, still carried a certain novelty, a whiff of the unknown. If Paris reeked of sex, opera, art, and decadent poverty, Marseille reeked of underground crime, opportunism, trafficked cocaine, rowdy tavern song. Paris was a woman, a fallen woman in the arms of her Nazi captors; but Marseille was a man, a schemer in a secondhand coat, ready to sell his soul or whatever else came quickly to hand”.  From The Flight Portfolioby Julie Orringer

Works Read so for Paris in July 2019

  1. At the Existentialist Cafe:Freedom, Being and Apricot  Cocktails by Sarah Blackwell.  2016 - An exploration of the Parisian origins of French post World War Two Existentialism 
  2. Suzanne's Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris by Anne Nelson. 2017- an important addition to French Holocaust Literature
  3. Journey to the Edge of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine -1932
  4. Death on The Installment Plan by Louis-Ferdinand Celine - 1936
  5. "Luc and his Father" - a set in Paris short story by Mavis Gallant - 1982
  6. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer - 2010

Paris in July, hosted by Thyme for Tea, is going great.  Besides posts on literary works, people have shared wonderful posts on French food, Paris architecture, and more.  It is a good way for book bloggers like me to expand my knowledge and contacts.  

Last month I posted on Julie Orriinger’s set in Marseile during World War Two novel The Flight Portfolio.  I loved this book.  It is based on the efforts of Varian Fry, an American living in Nazi controlled Paris, to smuggle prominent Jewish writers, artists, and intellectuals out of France.  

The Invisible Bridgewas her debut novel.  Based partially on familiy history, it is also set during War War Two.  The story begins and ends in Budapest, with a long wonderfully rendered Parisian middle.  It is story of three Jewish brothers from Budapest.  

Paris, 1937, Andras Levi has just arrived,leaving his native Budapest with a mysterious letter to be delivered in Paris.  He is there to enroll in Architectural School.  Orringer does a wonderful job letting us watch as Andras gets to know Paris.  I really enjoyed time spent with him working in a theater.  We see him make friends, fall deeply in love, learn French all while missing his family.  The Germans take Paris and Jewish students lost their scholarships. Andras is The oldest brother.  The middle brother gets into medical School  in Italy, the youngest aspires to be a dancer.  The woman Andras loves, also Jewish, is originally from Budapest.  She has a dark secret.  

Thinks get worse and worse for Jews in Paris.  A family emergency takes Andras and his wife back to Nazi controlled Budapest.  Hungary is an ally of the Germans.  Andras is forced to enroll in a labor brigade.  The conditions are brutal.  Things get worse and worse in Budapest.  

Orringer does a masterful job depicting the horrors of the slave labor camps and Budapest during the War.

There is just so much in this amazing novel.  The two cities Budapest and Paris are sites of great misery,shame and courage.  All of the characters were very real for me.  People I did not like at first became admirable.  There is extensive descriptions of meals, as food shortages got worse.  There are heartbreaking events, we see people at their worst and best.  We learn a lot about architecture, Hungarian history and culture, and the theater.

I wished The Invisible Bridgewas another 782 pages.  Reading this book was a wonderful experience for me.  There is much more in the novel than i have mentioned

Julie Orringer is the author of two award-winning books: The Invisible Bridge, a New York Times bestselling novel, and How to Breathe Underwater, a collection of stories; her new novel, The Flight Portfolio, tells the story of Varian Fry, the New York journalist who went to Marseille in 1940 to save writers and artists blacklisted by the Gestapo. All her work has been published by Alfred A. Knopf, and her books have been translated into twenty languages. Her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Granta Book of the American Short Story and The Scribner Anthology of American Short Fiction. She is the winner of the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children, and is at work on a novel set in New Orleans. From the author's website

Mel u


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Thank you for sharing this book with us. I can see that you enjoyed it very much. Hopefully the author is working quickly to finish her book set in New Orleans.

Mae Travels said...

You show how the author has used two fascinating World War II cities, Paris and Budapest, to tell a story. I assume it's a well-researched novel, from your description. At the moment I'm trying to read more non-fiction or fiction written by people who experienced the times and places they choose to write about, so this one doesn't appeal to me.

best... mae at

Mel u said...

Deb Nance i am also looking Forward to her set in New Orleans book. Thanks for your comment

Mel u said...

Mae Travels- i appreciate your point. The author of course did not live in Paris or Budapest during WW Two. The book is based partially on
Family history. She has spent time in both Cities and the books appear very well researched. Thanks for your comment

Buried In Print said...

I've been wanting to read this one since it was listed for the (then) Orange Prize (now, Women's Fiction Prize): you make me want to run and snatch a copy from the library straight away!

Enjoy your other travels in Paris, too!

Arti said...

Thanks for these recommendations and the review. I will definitely check my library for Julie Orringer's books. And I see you're planning to read Sarah Bakewell's At the Existential Cafe. It's a satisfying read. Bakewell has made hard information sounds like captivating stories. Looking forward to your review of it.