The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer is the tale of three Hungarian-Jewish brothers, each with their own unique artistic talents, whose dreams were derailed as Hitler ravaged through Europe.

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de Sévigné. As he falls into a complicated relationship with the letter’s recipient, he becomes privy to a secret history that will alter the course of his own life. Meanwhile, as his elder brother takes up medical studies in Modena and their younger brother leaves school for the stage, Europe’s unfolding tragedy sends each of their lives into terrifying uncertainty. At the end of Andras’s second summer in Paris, all of Europe erupts in a cataclysm of war.

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From the small Hungarian town of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the lonely chill of Andras’s room on the rue des Écoles to the deep and enduring connection he discovers on the rue de Sévigné, from the despair of Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labor camps and beyond, The Invisible Bridge tells the story of a love tested by disaster, of brothers whose bonds cannot be broken, of a family shattered and remade in history’s darkest hour, and of the dangerous power of art in a time of war.
Knopf; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)

Book Club Ideas

Decorations

The decorations focused on the good times in prewar Paris – a ballerina for Klara and architecture plans for Andras. The backdrop of many of the pictures is a canvas room divider featuring a French street cafe scene.

This ballerina is my favorite thing I have ever owned so I had to include another picture of it. It sits on a table across from my desk so I look at it everyday. I bought it at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in 1994, and unfortunately I do not remember the name of the artist and I can’t read his signature on the bottom. I do remember he had dreadlocks if that rings a bell for anyone.

Music

Music for a book club party for The Invisible Bridge can include:

Below is a collection of music from Hungary and WWII:



Book Club Menu

Before the war, Andras and his friends at École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris liked to drink whiskey and soda, the drink of American movie stars (page 59). In Hungary, they drank slivovitz, or plum brandy (page 373).

Andras learned to cook by watching his mother and wowed his new found love. “He could make palacsinta, thin egg pancakes, with chocolate or jam or apple filling; he could make Paprikás Burgonya and Spaetzle and Red Cabbage with Caraway Seeds” (page 117). Hungarian Farmer’s Bread would taste great with this meal.

The tablecloths are laid out like the Hungarian flag. I included one pink carnation (page 592) in honor of the tap dancing youngest brother, Mátyás. The map in the background marks Paris, Budapest and the dreaded Ukraine as well as Palestine where they hoped to be able to live out their dreams.

I made an assemble your own Palacsinta bar, which included bowls of walnuts, chocolate chips, fresh fruit, Nutella, chocolate syrup and strawberry and apricot jam. Jam plays an important role in The Invisible Bridge– the eldest brother Tibor carried jam he found at a farmhouse in the palm of his had for 20 kilometers (page 563) in order to feed Andras.


Book Club Resources

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 4.2 stars (33,542 ratings)
Amazon: 4.5 stars (777 ratings)
LibraryThing: 4.2 stars (115 ratings)
My Rating: 5 stars

Book Reviews

Book Club Discussion

Purchase The Invisible Bridge at your favorite bookseller

About the Author

Julie Orringer is the author of the award-winning short-story collection How to Breathe Underwater, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is the winner of The Paris Review’s Discovery Prize and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stanford University, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is researching a new novel.

Visit the website of Julie Orringer