The Bridges of Madison County

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The Bridges of Madison County
AuthorRobert James Waller
CountryUnited States
PublisherWarner Books, Inc.
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages192 pp
813/.54 20
LC ClassPS3573.A4347 B75 1992
Followed byA Thousand Country Roads 

The Bridges of Madison County is a 1992 book written by American author Robert James Waller. The book was published by Warner Books, Inc. Kincaid has same first name as author and is a photographer and an artist just like Robert James Waller. In the first chapter, “the Beginning,” the author misleads the readers by saying that this book is a true story. It is actually a work of fiction. The book is a love story about an Italian woman, Francesca Johnson. She is a farmer’s wife who falls in love with Robert Kincaid, a photographer living in Bellingham, Washington. The novel sets in Madison County, Iowa. It is a very small town according to the book.

The novel is a bestselling book. It sold 50 million copies worldwide and has been translated in 25 languages. The Bridges of Madison County was on the New York Times best seller list for 164 weeks from 1992 until 1995. The story is made into a movie in 1995. The movie was directed by Clint Eastwood. In the movie, Meryl Streep plays Francesca Johnson and Clint Eastwood plays Robert Kincaid.

Main Characters[change | change source]

Francesca Johnson[change | change source]

Francesca Johnson is an Italian woman who is very conservative. She loves Robert but cannot run away with him because she has to protect her family. She is very careful when she meets Robert because she is living in such a small town. She worries people will talk about her. She is not very satisfied with her life. Her family does not really care about her and her husband does not fulfill her need for romance. She loves how Robert pays much attention to her. When she meets him, she emphasizes how she feels feminine again. She is compared to the bridge which is not appreciated by the people in the town because it is always there and it is all worn out. Robert can see the true beauty of the bridge. Just like the bridge, Francesca is not valued by her family and she is just getting older and older but Robert knows the true beauty of her.

Robert Kincaid[change | change source]

Robert Kincaid is a photographer. He seems to be living in another world. He is poetic and sensitive. He is very considerate of Francesca. He likes the old ways and hates how modern civilization, computers and robots are taking over men’s lives. He is not handsome but he is attractive. Women he dates say he has something powerful in him. He is often compared to an animal such as leopard or peregrine.

Summary[change | change source]

Francesca Johnson is from Naples, Italy. She marries Richard Johnson and comes to Iowa with him. She becomes a farmer’s wife. For Francesca, who studied literature, rural life is monotonous. One summer day in 1965, Robert Kincaid visits Madison County. He is there to take picture of the covered bridges for National Geographic. He cannot find Roseman Bridge so he stops at Francesca’s house to ask for directions. They are attracted to each other at first sight. Because her husband and children are in Illinois for about a week, Francesca is alone in the house. She takes him to the bridge. After going to the bridge, they have great time eating.

After Robert is gone, Francesca leaves a note on Roseman Bridge. The note is an invitation for another supper. He sees the note and joins her for the dinner the next day. That night, they make love. Since they have little time, they whisper love to each other all the time. When the dream-like week is almost over, Robert asks her to leave the town and stay with him. She tells him she cannot leave because of her responsibility for the family. Robert respects her decision.

They never keep in touch with each other after that week. After the death of her husband, she tries to contact Robert but she fails. Later, she receives the package from an attorney. The package is filled with Robert’s things- his cameras and a letter. She learns that Robert is dead. When she dies, her children find out about her affair because she has written a letter to them. They respect the love she had and agree to publish the love story.

Other websites[change | change source]