Goodreads rating: 3.09/5 (3,200+ ratings)
My rating: 6/10
First Published: 2003
Genre: Adult Fiction; Chick Lit
Originally published anonymously, The Bridge Stripped Bare is the story of a newly married woman, who ends up attending a library group regularly and meeting a man there. Through her diary, she details her sexual awakening that she discovers from being with this man, and the confidence this gives her both with her husband, and within herself.
One thing I really enjoyed about this book is that it’s woven together with an anonymous 17th-century text called ‘A Woeman’s Worth’ which is made up of lessons for women. The author then writes the novel as a response to the lessons in the 400 year old book. I liked reading the old lessons and comparing it to modern times.
Each ‘lesson’ is a different chapter, which are really short. When I began reading it, I didn’t like the format – it wasn’t gripping me and I couldn’t get into it, but after a while I was glad for it as it made it easier to read a little bit and then come back to later!
This novel is pretty straightforward and honest when it comes to the protagonist’s thoughts about sex. I must admit that when reading it at lunch at work I didn’t want anyone to see over my shoulder because some of the content is pretty raunchy. So keep that in mind when you read it!
There were the endless birthday nights and New Year’s Eves of just you in your bed and no one else. There was the welling up at weddings, the glittery eye-prick, when all the couples would get up to dance. Sometimes it felt like your heart was crazed with cracks like your grandmother’s old saucers. Sometimes the sight of a Saturday afternoon couple laughing in a park would splinter it completely.
Alone you’re refinding a glittering, a clarity, you’re finding your distilled self. …You think of the two types of aloneness you’ve known recently: this wonderful, sparkly, soul-refreshing type, and the despairing loneliness that sucks the breath from your life.
An emptiness rules at its core, a rottenness, a silence when one of you retires to bed without saying good night, when you eat together without conversation, when the phone’s passed wordlessly to the other. An emptiness when every night you lie in the double bed, restlessly awake, astounded at how closely hate can nudge against love, can wind around it sinuously like a cat. An emptiness when you realize that the loneliest you’ve ever been is within a marriage, as a wife.
No one except your husband knows of the cautiousness at the heart of your life. Your adulthood has been a progressive retreat from curiosity and wonder, an endless series of delays and procrastinations. You wanted to be so much, once, but life kept on getting in the way… You settled. Shunned creativity, flight, risk, never had the courage to give a dream, any dream, a go.
“Simply too beautiful… a mesmerising and disquieting novel that will deserve to be read again.” – Vogue Australia
“One of the few truly original voices to emerge in a long time.”- Time Out New York
“A powerful novel that does not flinch from strong emotion or description…luminous.” – London Times
If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!