The Bridges of Madison County

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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 (hardback & 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 that tells the story of a married but lonely Italian-American woman (war bride) living on a 1960s Madison County, Iowa, farm. While her husband and children are away at the State Fair, she engages in an affair with a National Geographic photographer from Bellingham, Washington, who is visiting Madison County 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 stated in an interview that there were strong similarities between the main character and himself.[1]

The novel is one of the bestselling books of the 20th century, with 60 million copies sold worldwide. It has also been adapted into a feature film in 1995 and a musical in 2013.

Publication history[edit]

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

A sequel 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.

In 2005, the trilogy was completed with High Plains Tango, which came about when Waller was writing A Thousand Country Roads and he realized he had two novels' worth of material. "High Plains Tango picks up the story of itinerant master carpenter Carlisle McMillan, Robert Kincaid's illegitimate son, who settles in Salamander, S.D. There his life becomes intertwined with two very different women and almost overrun by the threats of eminent domain."[4]


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".[5]

Other reviewers criticized the novel as sentimental slush: featuring "contrived, unrealistic dialog", and a "trite" storyline.[6]

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

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[9] was adapted into a Tony Award-winning[10][11] 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.[12] 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.[13][14][15] Hunter Foster played the role of Bud Johnson, the husband of Francesca.[16]


  1. ^ Transcript of interview with Robert James Waller at Archived 2013-05-13 at the Wayback Machine., retrieved 4 Feb, 2008
  2. ^ Love in Black and White[permanent dead link], hardcover, Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992.
  3. ^ Love in Black and White, paperback, Mandarin, 1993.
  4. ^ Reid, Dixie. "Waller's 'Bridges' trilogy ends with a 'Tango'". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Klepp, L.S. "BOOK REVIEW: The Bridges of Madison County" June 12, 1992.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Lyall, Sarah (28 July 1993). "Book Notes: A Big Year for 'Bridges'", The New York Times
  8. ^ (8 October 1995). "Best Seller List", The New York Times
  9. ^ Official site bridgesofmadisoncountymusical
  10. ^ Staff. "Just the Winners, Please: Who Won the 68th Annual Tony Awards" Archived 2014-06-09 at, June 8, 2014
  11. ^ "The Tony Award Nominees - Shows - - The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards® - Official Website by IBM". 2014-02-18. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  12. ^ Hetrick, Adam. " 'The Bridges of Madison County', Starring Steven Pasquale and Elena Shaddow, Premieres at Williamstown" Archived 2013-08-03 at the Wayback Machine., August 1, 2013
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam. " 'The Bridges of Madison County', Starring Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale, Arrives on Broadway Jan. 17" Archived 2014-02-01 at the Wayback Machine., January 17, 2014
  14. ^ Gioia, Michael and Hetrick, Adam. "'The Bridges of Madison County' Will Open on Broadway One Week Earlier Than Expected" Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine., November 26, 2013
  15. ^ Staff."The Verdict: Critics Review 'The Bridges of Madison County'" Archived 2014-03-21 at the Wayback Machine., February 21, 2014
  16. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Hunter Foster Completes Love Triangle of Broadway Musical The Bridges of Madison County'" Archived 2013-12-06 at the Wayback Machine., December 3, 2013

External links[edit]