“The Painted Bridge: A Novel
Author: Wendy Wallace
I have to say that Wendy Wallace’s attention to imagery was refreshing. Her utilization of well-placed verse such as “along a driveway edged with tall trees that still clung to the last of their foliage” to “”a panicked, choking wave rose in her chest” allowed me to see myself in the setting. I thoroughly enjoyed this throughout the book. Anna Palmer is a character that the reader can relate to. You empathize with her from the betrayal she feels at the hands of her husband to the growth she experiences by the end of the book.
Also, I appreciated the historical significance of the book. Even though the story takes place in another time period, the discrimination and alienation of the women in the book reminds the reader why the women’s suffrage movement was so important and necessary. Something as natural as a woman’s cycle was seen as her having hot blood and leeches would be used to “cool” her blood. Although a fictional book, The Painted Bridge does contain historical significance that exhibits the attention to detail and research taken on by the author.
Unfortunately, the same things that made this book interesting at times were the same things that left me confused at certain points: wordy descriptions and an ambiguous plot. The book contains several twists that are not revealed until the last twenty pages. The buildup of tension on every page was lacking and a more fast-paced storyline would have been better suited to this mystery/suspense. There were even some revelations that went over my head because of too much symbolism. Once you are introduced to the characters, they don’t develop much beyond that. Their actions may change but it is not due to some internal change or revelation. It is because they have to as a result of the direction the story has taken. By the last chapter, I found myself reading just to finish the book and I wasn’t really interested in the secrets of the characters.
Overall, the book was well written from a prose standpoint. But if you are looking for a mystery or suspense set in that old country charm that sends chills down your spine with every door bang, creaky floorboard and weird groundskeeper encounter, this is not the book. The suspense outlined in the book sets you up for failure. The mysteries introduced were cliché and some were not clearly solved or revealed. This is a book that I would recommend to a high school or college literature class as part of an analysis group or project. Chalked full of symbolism, historical references and literary elements it could be beneficial as an educational tool.