Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reading and Watching Bridges of Madison County

I will not talk about the weather! It is hampering and controlling my life right now, but I am safe and okay so that is enough. However, I do feel stuck a bit in what I have for choices in how to spend my days while waiting for the warm and dry. Always books are my friends when life events close down other avenues.

Lisa Richard Claro, a fellow blogger, is close to releasing her first book. It is romance and having read a short story from the novel, I can safely say it is going to be good! Check her out over at to follow her writing and book release adventures. On her blog today, Lisa posed a couple of questions to readers: What books do you reread and what movies do you rewatch? And why?

My answer would be a long a list because I often reread books and rewatch movies. One book I read three times was Bridges of Madison County, but I did not like the movie. When Lisa asked me why, I thought I would answer here.

I picked up the title of Bridges of Madison County from an essay in the back of a Good Housekeeping magazine. When I went to my favorite eclectic book store of that decade, the store owner said they were giving a box of Kleenex with each purchase. Even men were crying at the story. So I had to try the book too and loved it. Was it a classic? Was it extraordinary literature? Was it cutting edge story? No. It was realistic and human with characters that seemed real and believable because the characters had foibles. Yes, it was a romance and it was a short read and the first time author made a killing.

The story is a love triangle of sorts where all the characters could win or lose.  Francesca is a loving wife, dutiful mother, and good citizen, but she is bored on a farm in Iowa. Along comes a good looking and interesting man. So a torrid affair on a long weekend while the family is at the state fair could set the motion for destruction…but does it? If you haven’t read the story yet, give it a try.

So then comes Clint Eastwood turning the book into a movie and playing the lead. I have great appreciation for both Eastwood’s acting and directing. (I mean who didn’t love Rowdy Yates on Rawhide!) However, he ruined this film for me. First of all, he made himself the leading man and he was no Robert Kincaid! He was too old for playing this particular lover. Kincaid was an artist, sensitive to light and color. Eastwood did not fit. The bracelet that marked Kincaid’s arm looked like grade B prop on Eastwood. His Kincaid came across slightly sullen, a little domineering to the little farm wife it seemed to me. Robert Kincaid in the book was strong, virile but generous and sensitive.

I felt like Eastwood changed the thrust of the story from the beginning when he made Francesca appear to be a woman with the “hots” looking for some steamy moments. She seems a woman on the prowl. In the book, Francesca is bored yes, but she is not sure what she is lacking in her life. Had she been alone on the farm those few days, she would probably have restored herself with a lounging bath, maybe a glass of wine alone, a walk, a book, and just some listening to the silence.  She would have grown to appreciate her family again in their absence. But Robert Kincaid comes rolling down that Iowa gravel road in an old truck, an eccentric loner and photographer of beauty. Like two semis driving down the center lane, they hit hard and fast. No one was more surprised than Francesca herself. The rest is…well, the rest of the story.

Shortly after the book was a hit, DH and I were in Iowa and went to the house used in the film, Francesca’s house. Oh, it was beautiful! The old pickup truck sat under the trees, the mailbox stood at the drive, and the country road rolled up and down the Iowa landscape. Inside the house was so interesting…the bedroom…the farm kitchen…the bathtub (you know the one)…the water pump where that braceleted man washed…and more. It was a wonderful place to see and to be. 

Then in 2003 it was vandalized and set on fire, ruining the site. So sad. You can still see some of the many covered bridges of Madison County featured in the book and film though, and they are worth the trip.

So I think I will pass on Lisa’s questions to my readers and ask for your comments. What books do you reread? What films do you rewatch? And why have these stories captured your imagination, stirred your souls, embedded themselves in your memory, become some of your favorite loves? Thanks, Lisa, for your springboard! 


Sioux said...

Claudia--I loved the book, and loved the movie as well. I guess I saw more regret-filled woman than woman on the prowl.

There are lots of movies I watch over and over. Sound of Music. Flashdance. (Yes, I know the dialogue is horrible and the acting is stilted, but I love the music and the dancing.) Cat Ballou. Chocolat. I could go on and on.

Linda O'Connell said...

I can see where you are coming from. My goodness, I was rooting for both men at one time or the other as I watched and read this love story. I think books are always better because the reader can develop the character, fine details and use their imagination.
Bridges is one of my all time favorites.

Marylin Warner said...

I just finished reading both of Thomas Maltman's books, NIGHT BIRDS and LITTLE WOLVES. They weren't my usual taste in books, but I learned so much, the writing is excellent, and the stories are very compelling. Both are based on facts and legends following Indian/settler wars, and you feel equally involved and supportive of both groups.
My tastes in books change with my needs, and also with the weather ;) but I always have a stack of books (mostly novels) ready next to my bed.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Thanks for your kind words, Claudia, and for sharing my link. I'm so glad my post was a springboard! I agree with everything you said. Books are almost always better then the movies, with few exceptions (I think The Shawshank Redemption does justice to Stephen King's short story), and Bridges wasn't one of them. Your review is spot on.

Someone who commented on my blog mentioned a couple movies that I forgot about, but which I have seen multiple times and would be pleased to watch again: Ever After and Never Been Kissed, both Drew Barrymore vehicles. The more I thought about it, the more movies and books I came up with!

Lynn said...

I'll have to check out Lisa's blog - I'm so behind! I rarely re-read a book, but I'll watch a movie many times over.

Susan said...

Hello Dear Bookie...Well, my favorite movie of all time is Doctor Zhivago. I've seen it numerous times. Omar Sharif just bore into my soul. His acting in this film was flawless. He loved two women and, after seeing the film, I can see where that could happen.

I never tire of rereading Anne of Green Gables and other related books by Montgomery. They capture my heart entirely. Anne is so real, so darling, kind, feisty, and honest to the bone. I LOVE this character. I want, SO MUCH,to go to Prince Edward Island some day. That would be one of my dream-come-true trips.

Saw Bridges of Madison County but kept feeling sorry for the farmer husband! Susan