“On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.” So begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The rest of the book tells the story of the travelers who died that day. It also tells of a priest who attempts to demonstrate that all of these people deserved to die and therefore even this seemingly pointless accident was part of God’s plan.
Of course, despite his best efforts, the priest fails to fully understand the complicated lives of the travelers. None of them can be pigeon-holed into “good” or “evil” categories. They all have struggles, accomplishments and failures. They are all human, and that, at its heart, is the moral of the book.
This is a short book: 107 pages. It’s almost a novella. And it hardly has a plot in the normally understood sense of the word. But in that short space, the reader comes to know many characters very well. It’s such a short read and the payoff in insight is so big, that it’s definitely worth a read.