Based on the author's own family story, The Invisible Bridge begins in 1937 with a young and excited Andras Levi, who is on his way from his home in Budapest to study architecture in Paris. The world is wide open before him. He quickly rises to the top of his class, and he falls in love with an older woman with a mysterious past. The reader gets as wrapped up in Andras and Klara as they are, not realizing the incredible danger that surrounds them. Andras and Klara are Jewish, and the war is about to change their lives forever.
The novel takes Andras from Budapest to Paris, back to Budapest and then to the horrors of labor camps. But I don't want to reveal too much, so let me focus on Orringer as a writer. First, there is the poetry of her writing, the striking images that I had to read over and over:
"He felt the stirring of a new ache, something like homesickness but located deeper in his mind; it was an ache for the time when his heart had been a simple and satisfied thing, small as the green apples that grew in his father's orchard."
"The hills east of Buda had come into their young leaves, insensate to the dead and the grieving. The flowering lindens and plane trees seemed almost obscene to Andras, inappropriate, like girls in transparent lawn dresses at a funeral."
And I was constantly amazed by Orringer's attention to detail—to following each story through to its end. Orringer's characters are so vivid, so multidimensional, I could swear I really know them. And what a tremendous amount of research the author has done as far as the WWII itself. Unbelievable.
I'm really quite astounded by The Invisible Bridge. The last 50 pages or so I read in a doctor's office while waiting for a friend, and I embarrassingly wept now and then. I was slightly numb when I closed the book, stunned by human resiliency as displayed in the character but also stunned by Orringer's ability to craft such a novel.