The Bridge of San Luis Rey

  • by Thornton Wilder
  • Narrated by Sam Waterston
  • 3 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, first published in 1927, was Thornton Wilder's first major work and won him instant international recognition. The story concerns the lives of five people who fall to their deaths on July 20, 1714, when a rope bridge breaks on a road near Lima, Peru. A humble Franciscan, Brother Juniper, witnesses the accident and determines to learn about the lives of the victims in order to find out whether this accident happened by chance or by plan.Again and again, the novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder explores in his works the connections between the commonplace and cosmic dimensions of human experience, always returning to fundamental questions about the meaning of life.The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the true great American classics, has been translated into more than 30 languages. The book won Wilder the first of his three Pulitzer Prizes.


What the Critics Say

Pulitzer Prize winner
"A masterpiece." (New York Herald Tribune)
"A melancholy narrative of great power, simplicity and beauty." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Compact novel about fate, destiny

I highly recommend this novel, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

The story begins with the end – in Peru in 1714 a bridge collapses, killing five people. Brother Juniper, a monk who witnesses the disaster and is also fascinated with the idea of scientifically proving God’s existence, collects and analyzes the evidence of these victims’ lives, hoping to witness God’s plan.

We then are taken into the lives of the individuals who died on the bridge – who they were, how they lived, and what forces drew them to cross that bridge at that fateful moment. Though seemingly unrelated at first, they are in fact indirectly related to Camila Perichole, a former Peruvian actress.

Upon reading, I had initial fears that TBOSLR would depict the predictable 20th century existentialist world, where “God’s plan” is synonymous with “panacea” and that each of our lives is purposeless. Though I will not reveal the ending, Wilder steeres clear of this conclusion.

Sam Waterston’s voice (Law and Order) is excellent. Perhaps some do not like his plodding, tired style, but I feel it fits this novel perfectly.

Wilder's masterful accomplishment rests upon his proficiency in theatre. Limiting himself to only a few short scenes for each character, he perfectly encapsulates their motivations, dreams, fears, and essences. Readers will enjoy the depth of characters enclosed in such a brief novel.
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- Tobin

Excellent Story, But Poor Audiobook Technically

What aspect of Sam Waterston’s performance would you have changed?

Unlike other reviewers, I have no problems with Waterston's performance. However, two technical issues seriously detract from the listening experience. First, the sound is muffled, probably due to the performance having been originally a book on tape. Second, two of the audiobook's six chapters are out of order! The correct listening order should be 1, 2, 4, 3, 5, 6. Audible, most of the time I love your products, but you should correct problems like this, or at least warn us!

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Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-27-2002
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books