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    The Bridges of Madison County: Book and Movie Review




    Perhaps, one of the best love stories is about letting go and letting destiny decide the fate. Perhaps, everyone has experienced such sacrifice in a little or grand way. Perhaps, each of us can relate to any tale of loss. And perhaps, this theme made The Bridges of Madison County one of the best-selling books and one of the most successful movies in the 90s. 

    The Bridges of Madison County was written by American author Robert James Waller and published in 1992. Three years later, the book was adapted into a major motion picture by Amblin Entertainment, Malpaso Productions and Warner Bros. Entertainment. The film is directed by Clint Eastwood who also played the main protagonist along with Meryl Streep. 

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    Plot. In the present time, the children of deceased Francesca Johnson arrive in their Iowa farmhouse to settle their mother’s estate. She left them with a will and a safe deposit box. Siblings Michael and Carolyn are perplexed to be instructed that her body be cremated and the ashes strewn on the nearby Roseman Covered Bridge, which is not in accordance with the burial arrangement they had known. They are even more surprised to discover the contents of the deposit box. Inside are set of photos of her mother and a letter. Michael refuses to comply but is later convinced by Carolyn to calm down and that they read together the documents she had discovered – some letters addressed to their mother from a man named Robert Kincaid. This leads them to confront an olden chest where they found a letter from their mother, series of diaries, and souvenirs from Francesca’s other life.


    It was a hot day in 1965 when Robert Kincaid, a photographer for National Geographic, came to Madison County, Iowa to shoot a photographic essay for the infamous covered bridges in the sleepy town. Uncertain of the way around the locality, he pulled off in front of the house of Italian war bride Francesca Johnson to ask for directions. As her husband and children were away at the Illinois State Fair, Francesca offered to escort him around. This simple meeting eventually led to a four-day affair. That short affair had greatly impacted Francesca’s and Robert’s lives that they almost ran away together. However, she intervened at the last minute in consideration of the grave effect on her husband and children. Robert conceded as he also struggled to find the essence of his calling as a photograph.


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    Their discovery touched the Johnson siblings as each is facing marital issues. In honor of their mother’s love and self-sacrifice, they complied with her request.

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