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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Bridge - Trite, Predictable, and Bah-Humdrum


Molly Allen is a poor, little rich girl under her father’s thumb, her destiny as heiress to her father’s west coast corporation already determined.  Delighted that her pater loosened the reigns a bit to indulge her desire to attend college in Tennessee, Molly wistfully finds herself in love with the handsome, talented Ryan Kelly, a middle class boy from Georgia.

Molly and Ryan often find themselves in The Bridge, a quaint, privately owned bookstore, looking into each other’s eyes - breathlessly quoting Jane Eyre as they encourage each other’s dreams.

Charlie and Donna Barton, the middle-aged owners of The Bridge, smile approvingly at the young couple, knowing romance in bloom when then see it.

But alas, the love of Molly and Ryan is not meant to be.  A paternally-induced misunderstanding separates our tragic pair for five years – each thinking the other is married to someone else.

The story of these star-crossed lovers is not the only catastrophe in this novel.  The Bridge, a Franklin Tennessee institution for over 30 years, is closing after a devastating flood.  Charlie and Donna’s insurance won’t cover the cost of reopening.  Depressed and hopeless, Charlie ends up in an accident, which leaves him on life support, just weeks before Christmas, his devoted wife anxiously wondering if he will ever wake up again.

Yep, Karen Kingbury’s latest, The Bridge, has all the elements of a Victorian tragedy.  Set right before Christmas, Molly and Ryan find themselves together again in an attempt to save The Bridge and the Bartons.

Truth is, I really wanted to like The Bridge.  The Kingsbury books I have read I have liked, even her last book, Coming Home, which her even her most devoted fans angrily denounced, vowing never to read another of her novels.

Say what you will, Kingsbury has been an institution in Christian fiction, and although her past two books were panned, she has penned some incredibly moving faith fiction.  It is because of her track record that I wanted to like this latest book, hoping that it would pull her out of her recent literary tailspin.

So at the risk of sounding like a Scrooge, this Christmas-time novella is, at its best, bah-humdrum, at it’s worst, trite and embarrassingly predicable.

The plot was as stale as last year’s fruitcake, and the characters were like something from an 8th grade girl’s creative writing assignment.

And the climactic Christmas eve ending?  It was so cheesy I had an undeniable craving for a big bowl of tortilla chips.

It pains me, it truly does.  Kingsbury can write better than this.  Unfortunately, The Bridge seemed nothing more than a hastily written novel timed to cash in on Christmas and the Kingsbury name.

Sadly, I must confess, this book is one bridge you will not want to cross.

Courtesy copy of The Bridge obtained from Howard Books in exchange for an honest review.

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