The Invisible Bridge is a love story, a story of family, sacrifice and survival. Set in Paris and Budapest in the years before and during World War II, Andras Levi is a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student on scholarship in Paris. With Hitler’s rise to power, the political landscape rapidly changes in Europe and soon Levi is forced to return to Hungary with his new wife. As the possibility of leaving Hungary becomes more remote, Andras and his family face the consequences of Hitler’s pact with Hungary and the terrible war which could prove deadly to them all.
This novel was long-listed for the Orange prize in 2011, and I liked Orringer’s story, I really did. But, this book was too long. The first half of the book was about Andras’ life in Paris before the war. That’s a lot of book to set up his life as an architecture student and how he fell in love with Klara Morgenstern. Orringer’s characters were not exactly well-fleshed out either, and I also felt that her descriptions of Paris and Budapest were lacking. Recently I read City of Thieves by David Benioff. His novel about the siege of Stalingrad, was a much better example of characters that come to life and descriptions that give the reader a real sense of place.
So, what did I like? Orringer obviously did her homework in three areas: 1) architecture in the 1930’s, 2) life in the labor service, and 3) the political and social landscape in Hungary during World War II. These three things alone make the book worth reading. Of course, the story of the family’s survival while most of Europe’s Jews were being slaughtered, was very moving, and made the latter part of the book hard to put down. I’d really like to give this a four star rating, but it just fell short for me.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2010