Louis Charles (“Lucy”) Lynch has spent all his sixty years in upstate Thomaston, New York, married to the same woman, Sarah, for forty of them, their son now a grown man. Like his late, beloved father, Lucy is an optimist, though he’s had plenty of reasons not to be—chief among them his mother, still indomitably alive. Yet it was her shrewdness, combined with that Lynch optimism, that had propelled them years ago to the right side of the tracks and created an “empire” of convenience stores about to be passed on to the next generation.
Lucy and Sarah are also preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy, where his oldest friend, a renowned painter, has exiled himself far from anything they’d known in childhood. In fact, the exact nature of their friendship is one of the many mysteries Lucy hopes to untangle in the “history” he’s writing of his hometown and family. And with his story interspersed with that of Noonan, the native son who’d fled so long ago, the destinies building up around both of them (and Sarah, too) are relentless, constantly surprising, and utterly revealing.
Richard Russo is the author of Empire Falls, and Nobody’s Fool, (you know, the 1994 movie starring Paul Newman). both of which I read before I started the blog, and Mohawk, which you can read about here. As in all his work, his characters are quirky, and it is all about their lives in a small town. There have been some concerns about his treatment of non-whites, in that they always seem to appear in order to help out the Caucasian characters, or to serve as a learning opportunity, and don’t seem to exist in their own right and personage. Also, some folks (OK, some female reviewers) feel his female characters are not defined enough — they are either tough types or softies. Well, I agree about the non-white characters, but not so sure about the women characters, as it seems I know a whole lot of both types. Not telling you which one I am.
OH, and BTW, The Bridge of Sighs refers to the Venice pont which prisoners traverse on their way to jail, usually for good. The sighs are the prisoners bemoaning their dark fate.
I really like Russo for his storytelling, and the stories themselves. I find all his books page turners.
I now have the follow up to Nobody’s Fool, which is Everybody’s Fool, and that is in the queue to be read. Along with 2,874 other books. hahaha