The Bridges of Madison County

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This article is about the book. For the film, see The Bridges of Madison County (film). For the bridges, see List of Madison County Covered Bridges. For the musical, see The Bridges of Madison County (musical).
The Bridges of Madison County
First edition
Author Robert James Waller
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Warner Books, Inc.
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 192 pp
ISBN 0-446-51652-X
OCLC 24246926
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3573.A4347 B75 1992
Followed by A Thousand Country Roads

The Bridges of Madison County is a 1992 best-selling novel by Robert James Waller which tells the story of a married but lonely Italian woman, living in 1960s Madison County, Iowa, who engages in an affair with a National Geographic photographer from Bellingham, Washington who is visiting Madison County in order to create a photographic essay on the covered bridges in the area. The novel is presented as a novelization of a true story, but it is in fact entirely fictional. However, the author has stated in an interview that there are strong similarities between the main character and himself.[1]

The novel is one of the bestselling books of the 20th century, with 50 million copies sold worldwide.

Publication history[edit]

It was originally published in the UK under the title Love in Black and White.[2][3]

An epilogue entitled A Thousand Country Roads was published in 2002. It tells the remainder of the two main characters' story after their four-day affair. They never meet again, but their lives are interlocked until death.


The San Francisco Chronicle praised the novel as "lyrical..sensuous and sensitive..a tale of lasting love", while Entertainment Weekly called it "a short, poignant story, moving precisely because it has the ragged edges of reality".[4]

Other reviewers criticized the novel as sentimental slush: featuring "contrived, unrealistic dialog", and a "trite" storyline.[5]

The book debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in August 1992, and slowly climbed to number 1 as the book[6] and remained on the list for over three years (164 consecutive weeks), through October 8, 1995.[7]

The Bridges of Madison County currently has an average of 3.1 stars on, indicating mixed reviews.

Film adaptation[edit]

The Bridges of Madison County was made into a 1995 film of the same name, adapted by Richard LaGravenese and directed by Clint Eastwood. It stars Eastwood and Meryl Streep.

Musical adaptation[edit]

The Bridges of Madison County[8] has been adapted into a musical with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and the book by Marsha Norman. The musical premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival on August 1, 2013. Directed by Bartlett Sher, the cast featured Elena Shaddow as Francesca and Steven Pasquale.[9] The musical began previews on Broadway at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on January 17, 2014 and officially opened on February 20, 2014 with Kelli O'Hara as Francesca and Steven Pasquale as Robert Kincaid. Directed by Bartlett Sher, the sets are by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Catherine Zuber, and lighting by Donald Holder.[10][11][12] Hunter Foster plays the role of Bud Johnson, the husband of Francesca.[13]


External links[edit]