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A Thousand Country Roads    by Robert James Waller order for
Thousand Country Roads
by Robert James Waller
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

At last, the sequel to the best-selling hardcover novel of all time - The Bridges of Madison County. Robert James Waller picks up the story of Robert Kincaid and Francesca Johnson where he left it years ago and brings it to a conclusion. Satisfying conclusion? That's up to the reader to decide.

As with Bridges, I fell in love again with Waller's writing: 'Crouched there with fog on the water, fog at the door, and the footprints of all the years upon him' or 'One great love in one dancing moment when the wind had come around to his back and the universe hesitated in whatever the universe was up to. One dancing moment when the old traveler saw the fires of home, when the trains came to rest and their whistles turned silent. When his circling around Rilke's ancient tower had ceased for a time.'

But I also fell in love once more with the deeply moving love story of Robert and Francesca. I won't tell you any of the Country Roads tale. Discover for yourself what has ensued in the intervening sixteen years since Robert and Francesca made love in a Madison County farmhouse. Ride with Robert as he makes a nostalgic visit to Roseman Bridge with his dog Highway. Delve into Francesca's thoughts as she reminisces about those brief four days she had with Robert. Return to Roseman Bridge, as Francesca does every day, and visualize the bouquet of wildflowers he picked for her. Speak out loud to the aging characters as I did. Realize that nothing remains static. Shed a few tears. Decide whether or not, at sixty-eight, Robert can rekindle their affair. And does he want to?

A very satisfying read. The only fault I can find is that it is too short. I wanted A Thousand Country Roads to continue for pages and pages, miles and miles. But Waller has it right - he tells a simple story exceedingly well, throws in a few unexpected turns, and wraps it up. Thank you, Robert James Waller for a wonderful read, one I will ruminate on as I take my own walks, as did Francesca. Not to Roseman Bridge, but to a bridge of my own.

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