Book Review: The Bridge of San Luis Rey

This book caught me by surprise.  It was not at all what I was expecting and I enjoyed it despite myself.  Many users of Goodreads categorize this Thorton Wilder novel as a Classic.  I think my criteria for a classic may be higher than most and I’m not sure I would include this, but it was a great book.  It won the Pulitzer in 1928.  As I said, I enjoyed this book and I didn’t think it was going to be a page-turner, but I did burn through it.  The fact that it was only 138 pages definitely helped in that aspect.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey Book Cover The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Thornton Wilder
Harper Collins
April 15, 2003

This beautiful new edition features unpublished notes for the novel and other illuminating documentary material, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder. "On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world. By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition. This new edition of Wilder’s 1928 Pulitzer Prize winning novel contains a new foreword by Russell Banks.