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Readers Line Up on Both Sides of 'Bridges'

September 13, 1993

Thank you so much for "Imitation the Highest Form of Flattery?" (Sept. 2). If ever a book was crying out to be spoofed, it is "The Bridges of Madison County."

I am truly fascinated by the many people, mostly women, who consider the book sensitive and a classic.

I wonder how they would have reacted had the story line been altered: Instead of flat-bellied Robert Kincaid riding up to Francesca's farmhouse while her husband was away, there was farmer Francis home alone as down the dirt path arrives voluptuous Roberta. They proceed to have a four-day fling that he treasures for the rest of his life, shuts off his faithful wife and leaves letters and memorabilia for his children to discover his infidelity after his death.

If that's sensitivity, I'll take vanilla.

COLLEEN O'BRIEN

Palos Verdes Estates

*

I am compelled to wonder where has the romantic spirit of Americans gone? When we are presented with a delightful romp into a delicious fairy tale with a touching ending, what do most reality-tainted folks do? They question it and rip it to shreds instead of reveling in the pure fun of it.

Why does Robert James Waller's "The Bridges of Madison County" have to be criticized for lacking any literary merit? Why must a bestseller be a classic? Perhaps Waller's slim but engaging novel has begun a new trend in fiction, one where anything can happen including a guitar-playing, truck-naming, Rilke-quoting photographer.

CAROLYN FRENGER

Sherman Oaks

*

Re "Bridges," I read it. By mistake. Don't ask. The quality of time I spent reading it was probably a cut above the quality of time I could have spent watching Home Shopping Network.

However, it did bear certain similarities to another novel in which the hero's name is Robert, the heroine speaks a romance language and the affair is brief and passionate. It even involves a bridge.

I think I'll read it again. It's called "For Whom the Bell Tolls." The Earth really moved in that one.

ANN GUILBERT RAYMOND

Pacific Palisades

*

My husband came home from work one day bearing a small hardback book titled "The Bridges of Madison County," lent to him by a female co-worker. All of the women at work, he explained, were crazy over this book ("They say it's so romantic").

Yes, it's a romance novel and yes, it's acceptably written, but it's certainly no better, maybe even a little worse, than the majority of romance novels on the market.

That's what makes the "Bridges" mania so amusing. Men and women who've been turning up their noses at the romance genre for years are suddenly exclaiming over something Harlequin might have rejected.

MARY SPENCER LIMING

Duarte

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