The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. Published on April 13, 1992 by Grand Central Publishing. In this book are pictures of the Roseman covered bridge by the author himself. Waller's books are mostly New York Times bestsellers and two of his novels are shown in motion pictures. I picked this book in a booksale for PHP 35 only. What made me choose to buy it is because I am intrigued of the love affair of a National Geographic photographer and a farm wife.
The story is told by a writer who is not at all related to the people involved in the story rather he is asked by two siblings, Micheal and Carolyn Johnson, to write a story about their mother. The events recalled by the two siblings were based on the letters that their mother kept for a long time since they were kids. Their mother is Francesca Johnson, who is a farm wife in Iowa, and their father is Richard Johnson, who is a business man often out of the county to work. They all went to school during the day leaving Francesca at home tending the farm. Being a farm wife, Francesca mostly felt loneliness but she enjoyed the time being with her family. One day, the kids had to attend a school program for a few days and their father had to look for them. On the first evening, she felt free from the stress she experienced everyday as a mother and excited about being alone in the house for a few days. There was freedom from the daily chores except for some but it made her happy. She seemed to be longing for some adventure that she never had ever since she got married. Robert Kincaid is a traveling photographer and working for National Geographic for a long time. He had been to different places, taking photos of everything, and because he is good with words, he almost always gets published. On the second day that Francesca's family was away, Robert was driving towards her door and asked about the location of the Roseman Bridge. A simple conversation on Robert's askance about the place made Francesca feel something weird which brings us to their short but romantic story of their love.
It was love at first sight. Being always at home or farm, Francesca knew she needed to go away for a while and Robert seemed to be the gateway. Francesca offered herself to guide him to the way where the Roseman Bridge is located and Robert fetched him right after he took some photos. It was a refreshing environment for her and she enjoyed it. She is fascinated at how photographers work; at how Robert was. A simple gesture had led to an overwhelming romance for just a couple of days. She had a choice to leave her family and be with Robert and she had a choice not to.
I quite like the story simply because it makes you think what should be right; it is not just a plain old love story; it is one-of-a-kid. I know it is quite intriguing to have a main character who is married but fell in love to another guy. But if you give your attention to Francesca alone, rather than her being married, she seemed lonely in life. She is always at home, attending to her family's needs, she rarely goes to the market and buys things for herself, and it almost seemed like she is stuck in a loophole. She is not genuinely happy at all. But then again, I can't help but think about her responsibility as a mother if she ever went away from her family just because she found a new love. It is not that easy even in real life.
One thing that this story taught me is you have to think (and re-think over and over) of your choices. Balance them according to what fits you most and what you think is right given the facts that you are living right now. I may not be making any sense here for those who have not read the book or even watched the movie, but once you do, let me know what you think about their love story and Francesca's choice that changed her life and kept it for years.