The Bridge of Years tells the story of a Belgian family during the years between the two world wars. The family is held together by mother Melanie, a tenacious businesswoman who keeps the farm running. She and her philosopher husband Paul, and their three very different children, face a changing Europe and must decide how to face the challenges of another impending war. I read this book on a whim, not having heard of May Sarton or the novel before, and it was truly a hidden gem. Written in 1946, this novel isn't far removed from the time in which it's set, but I highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction.
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This novel, first published in 1946, is one of May Sarton’s earliest and, some critics think, one of her best. It takes place during the years between the world wars and explores the life of a Belgian family, the Duchesnes, and their mutual devotion which intensifies under the shadow of impending disaster.
Mélanie Duchesne, mother of three, is an active businesswoman, whose courage, energy, and optimism bind the family and its farm together. Paul, her husband, is a philosopher, detached, moody, continually embroiled in the spiritual conflicts of a crumbling Europe.
The last years before the second war are tense ones, a time for stock-taking, for a quickening of the pace of life. But it is Mélanie who encourages her family to proceed with their plans, to continue with their way of life. And it is Mélanie who decides their future as the Germans launch their invasion of Belgium.