The Invisible Bridge

The Invisible Bridge

by Julie Orringer

Arlene Almas (09/06/12): I also loved this book. I can't add much to the previous wonderfully written reviews, except for my own 5-star rating!
Rating: *****

Patti's Pages: The first half of this book, which takes place in Paris, ends with the tearful separation of mother and daughter. The second half, which takes place in Hungary and the Ukraine, begins with the tearful reunion of another mother/daughter pair. In fact, there are innumerable separations and reunions throughout the book, as lovers quarrel and reconcile, and conscripted soldiers depart and return, if they survive the torture and inhumane conditions they are forced to endure. The main character is a young Hungarian Jew, Andras Levi, who receives an unexpected scholarship to study architecture in Paris in the late 1930s. There he meets and falls in love with a Hungarian ballet instructor, Klara, with a daughter almost as old as he, and a secret past that prohibits Klara's return to Hungary. Just as he is beginning to earn some kudos for his talent at school, Andras finds that he must return to Hungary, now a Nazi ally, to renew his visa. We learn at that point that he will never reside in Paris again.

The second half of the book recounts his several stints in various work camps where atrocities abound, from officers skimming vital food and supplies from the supply trains, to the senseless murder of children in an orphanage. Andras and his friend Mendel create a humorous and semi-subversive newsletter to help bolster morale, and one of Mendel's articles describes a bridge, purportedly designed by Andras, that is invisible to enemy troops. This bridge could be a symbol of any number of things the connection between loved ones, the link between the past and the present, and the fragile line that divides those lucky enough to survive from those who perish. This period of human history was a mine field, where the path to safety was indeed invisible.
Rating: *****

Judy Goldman: Being the daughter-in-law of two Holocaust survivors, I have been drawn to read many books dealing with the difficulties families faced in Europe during WWII. But on Judy's recommendation, I decided to read this one, and I am so glad I did. The whole perspective of this story is different from most Holocaust stories as it begins by introducing the family and life in Hungary. I became well aquainted with the Levi family and felt as if I were living right along with them in their day to day life. As the story unfolds the bigotry and hatred slowly appears and affects not only the Levi family, but classmates and friends as well. Its truely depicts life in Europe pre WWII with the carefree, innocent attitudes of so many Europeans that things could never be so bad. Knowing what was going to happen ma! de reading this sometime difficult as you knew something evil was coming and yet the characters went about their daily routine without real thoughts of future hardships. Don't be misled to think this book is all horror and sadness. Its a study of tenacity and will to live, love and succeed.
Rating: ****

Debbie Weiss: "The Invisible Bridge" is an amazing story following one family from Budapest just prior to WWII through the end of the war. The Levi family is a Jewish family with 3 sons. Andras is the main character who leaves Budapest to attend architecture school in Paris. He is requested to deliver a letter to C. Morgenstern upon his arrival in France. The accomplishment of this request leads to a complicated relationship with the letter's recipient. We meet and get to know Levi's fellow architectural students and we are introduced to Tibor, Andras's older brother who leaves for Modena to study medicince. A third brother remains back in Hungary pursuing a career in the dramatic arts.

As war starts to break out across Europe, Andras and Tibor are forced to return to Budapest. We follow the brothers' exeriences in forced labor camps and we see how all the events of the times detrimentally affect these men and their families. There is a love story here, and we come to know the characters so intensely that we are in pain when they are in pain. Sometimes I had to put the book down because it was too difficult to read about the horrible conditions they had to endure. None-the-less, this book certainly was well worth reading for its literary quality as well as for the historical education it provided about Hungary during the war. This is definitely a book you should read.
Rating: *****

Judy Stanton: Jewish bibliophiles have all read their share of Holocaust books. Don't let this stop you from reading this wonderfully written story that sweeps you away to Hungary and other parts of Europe during those dreadful years. In her premier novel...amazingly....Orringer intimately shares the loves, sorrows, trials and tribulations of the Levi family's three sons in their formative years. We all know what happened in the Holocaust, but The Invisible Bridge manages to make it so personal that you can relate to each character's joys, frustrations, happiness and sorrow. Reading the epilogue, where Orringer thanks her grandparents and grand uncles for sharing their story, and the poem "Any Case" makes the story all the more amazing. I highly recommend The Invisible Bridge.
Rating: *****

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