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Alexander's Bridge

Willa Sibert Cather

Book Overview: 

Bartley Alexander is a construction engineer and world-renowned builder of bridges going through a mid-life crisis. Although married to his wife Winifred, Bartley resumes his acquaintance with a former lover, Hilda Burgoyne, in London. The affair proves to gnaw at Bartley’s sense of propriety and honor.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Blinking up at the lights, Mainhall added in his luxurious, worldly way: "She's an elegant little person, and quite capable of an extravagant bit of sentiment like that. Here comes Sir Harry Towne. He's another who's awfully keen about her. Let me introduce you. Sir Harry Towne, Mr. Bartley Alexander, the American engineer."

Sir Harry Towne bowed and said that he had met Mr. Alexander and his wife in Tokyo.

Mainhall cut in impatiently.

"I say, Sir Harry, the little girl's going famously to-night, isn't she?"

Sir Harry wrinkled his brows judiciously. "Do you know, I thought the dance a bit conscious to-night, for the first time. The fact is, she's feeling rather seedy, poor child. Westmere and I were back after the first act, and we thought she seemed quite uncertain of herself. A little attack of nerves, possibly."

He bowed as the warning bell rang, and Mainhall whispered: "You know Lord Westmere, of course,—t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A man is caught between the marriage of his adulthood and the love affair from his youth, loving both and realizing having both is not possible. The bridge can be an obvious metaphor but instead of the usual symbol overshadowed by the divisions it joins or the obstacles it crosses, there was some...more

It is scientifically proven that Willa Cather is my favorite ever, so I took the opportunity over winter break to read this little gem. For a variety of reasons, I have stacks and stacks of books that I want to read because I think they will be terrible, or because someone recommended them to me...more

This was my second reading of Alexander's Bridge. When I first read this novel I was in my mid-20s and saw Alexander as a tragic hero. Now, in my mid-40s, it speaks to me as a cautionary tale of what can happen when you lead a life of action without reflection. It seems that Alexander has lost to...more

As it was Cather, I wanted so much to like this more than I did. The writing was alright and given it was her first novel, she undoubtedly learned much and honed her skill evident in later writings. It is worth reading. It is quick as it is very short; a novella really. Not difficult, but also no...more

Even though this book is sad I loved it. I forget just how good Cather is until I read or reread something she wrote.

Rating: 2* of five

It's vintage romantic fiction with a definite twist of Cather. That's not enough, I'm afraid, to overcome the mundane mid-life crisis/affair plot's unimaginative development. Strictly formulaic, and the characters were stock characters, and the settings...Canada? London?...weren...more

In 2014, I enjoyed O Pioneers! (the first book of Willa Cather's The Great Plains Trilogy) so much that this year I decided to read Alexander's Bridge in honour of her December birthday. This remarkable story is an impressive first novel which exhibits, for a young author, a surprisingly mature u...more

In the preface to this edition Willa Cather writes, "Alexander's Bridge was my first novel, and does not deal with the kind of subject-matter in which I now find myself most at home." She spends the rest of the preface apologising for its existence. I feel Cather is far too tough on herself for t...more

This was a thought provoking read.
More later.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.

“Alexander’s Bridge”, published in 1912 is the first novel by Willa Cather, though it should probably be considered a novella. It is a fairly quick read, but unfortunately it lacks depth and is overly simplistic. The title character is Bartley Alexander an engineer of bridges. He is married to Wi...more

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