Bridge of Clay

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

A decent read. However, this is NOTHING compared to "The Book Thief' and just isn't what I was expecting from Zusak. Underwhelming.
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This isn't on a par with The Book Thief, and heads in an entirely different direction- but that's no bad thing. The book commences in the beginning of the story and then twists the timeline around in a really clever way. Takes a little time to get into and it's a great puzzle of a read. Full of super original construction and a story that carries you from start to finish. It looks simple enough, but constructing this was probably hard work and it's a lovely read.
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Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

For how do you walk towards your father without being a son? How do you leave home without realising where you’re from?

This book… it’s a 568 page poem about brothers, running, fathers, a bridge, mistakes, Homer’s Odyssey, mothers, stories, dying, legacies, horses and a mule, clay, painting, David and the slaves, reading, Pont Neuf, grief, refugees, an engraved lighter, a piano, a typewriter, a peg…

…there was always a bulkiness to us. A bursting at the seams. Whatever we did, there was more: More washing, more cleaning, more eating, more dishes, more arguing, more fighting and throwing and hitting and farting… It didn’t matter how in control or on-top-of-things were, there was chaos a heartbeat away. We could be skinny and constantly agile, but there was never quite room for all of it – so everything was done at once.

Like many readers, I had eagerly awaited Zusak’s ‘next book’. And let’s be frank, we all waited very patiently. And then it arrived, this story about the five Dunbar brothers with their absent father and dead mother. And I pounced on it but just couldn’t get into it. I heard Zusak speak, which of course made me enthusiastic all over again but no, I didn’t get very far. And then my book group selected it, so I persevered through the first few chapters. And then something changed – the intimacy of those family moments, those wounded lovely boys, a mother’s heart breaking as she contemplated what she’d miss. And Zusak had me wholly, completely until the very last word.

You know your mother’s dying when she takes you out individually. We skip moments like stones.

From the service we carried her away. On one side was Henry, Clay and me. On the other, Michael, Tommy and Rory – same as our Archer Street football teams – and the woman inside was weightless. The coffin weighed a tonne. She was a feather wrapped up in a chopping block.

And we walked back out together – through the crowds and words of people, and a city all swollen with sun. And death came walking with us.

From there, there was a sort of bashed-up quiet. The table was arid between father and sons, and a hell of a lot of toast crumbs.

5/5 Stunning.

I received my copy of Bridge of Clay from the publisher, Random House UK, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Bridge of Clay, though at the beginning seemed to be a rather week story, ended up being as good and mesmerizing as only Markus Zusak could do it. 
If you are expecting the same Markus Zusak from the Book Thief, you better get ready, because you will find a different personality and slightly slowing pacing in his most recent novel.
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It must be hard for an author to follow up from two amazing books. This book was flat to me and just too long. It was okay, I just enjoyed his other books more
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I tried to read this but unfortunately despite multiple attempts I just couldn’t get into it. The Book Theif is an all time favourite of mine and perhaps I was setting this book up for a fall by expecting it to live up to that. Unfortunately it just wasn’t the book for me. As I don’t believe it is fair to review books I haven’t finished I haven’t linked a video review.
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DNF @30%

The five Dunbar brothers live in a house without grownups and with a collection of animals.
When their father returns, Clay's life changes.

The Book Thief is one of my favourite books so I was really excited to read Bridge of Clay.
Bridge of Clay follows the Dunbar brothers and the history of their family. The time jumps were confusing at times, especially with the formatting of the eARC. 
I wasn't keen on the writing style - things seemed really dragged out and long winded, and not much happened.
I lost interest and decided not to carry on.

Unfortunately, this wasn't for me.
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An incredibly well-written and detailed account of one family’s trials and the desperate, strong love and hatred binding them together. Zusak has written a story with many layers, nuance, and haunting. I will definitely be buying my own copy to re-read.
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This just isn't for me. I had very high expectations for it and they were dragged down as I went along with this book. The pacing is slow to the point of no return. A drag. Sorry. DNF.
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I was expecting great things from this book because The Book Thief is one of my favourite books of all time.

Unfortunately, I just couldn't get into this book. At times I had  no idea what was going on.

However, that's not to say that others wont enjoy it!
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This was not the book for me, so I'm going to put it down at page 19. I won't rate it or write a long review because I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading it  I wasn't a fan of the writing style and the plot doesn't pull me in. That being said, this book has a great opening line and I think a lot of other people will love this.
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This is a marvelous, rollicking tale of the five Dunbar boys, abandoned by their father after their mother died and now living alone in the family home with an assortment of animals. Told through the eyes of the oldest brother Matthew it mostly focuses on his younger brother, Clay and his exploits. The book is a little difficult to get into at first (and I did have to read the first chapter twice to get the rhythm of the writing) as it jumps around in time and many things don't have a significance until later. But trust me you will grow to love the characters (and Achilles the mule) and it will all fit together before the end to make a spellbinding and beautiful, poignant tale of family love.
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very very lovely. i love the way zusak writes. probably not as excellent as the book thief, and very wordy tbh, but i did very much like this.
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Now this is a book "Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak" I was looking forward to download and read. So when this book was available I had to read it. Especially as I loved his first book The book Thief. 
However, I sadly found this book, one of the hardest and confusing books I have read in a long time. and so long.
I had put it down several times and picked it up then started to read it again, which I never do. Shame though as I loved the Book Thief and I've read it a few times now. 
 
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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When I read The Book Thief I loved it so I was really excited when I heard Zusak had a new book out, as you can probably guess from the 4 star rated I really enjoyed this one but for me it fell a little short of The Book Thief.

This is a quick warning for anyone who is looking for another Book Thief this is a great book it is however totally different in terms of characters and narrative technique.

It took me a while to get into this as I found the narration confusing, the story moves backwards and forwards in time but not in a linear way. When we go back to the past we end up at different points sometimes before other past events we have read and at other times after the events. Once I had worked out what was going on the story started flowing for me and I found it easier to read for long periods of time as I wanted to know what was going to happen.

At it's heart this is a book about family, love, betrayal, hurt, with learning to live with the consequences and most importantly it is about forgiveness and hope.

The Dunbar boys might initially sound like teenage tearaways but by the end of the story every one of them had won my heart. They are all uniquely different, each has their strong points and their faults but at the end of the day when all is said and done they are brothers and nothing can stand in the way of that bond.

Warning - have the tissues handy. As the narrative progresses and the boys steal your heart the things that they go through will bring a tear to your eye.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a family saga.
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I enjoyed this book but I was a little disappointed because it isn't as good as The Book Thief. I liked the characters of the Dunbar boys and how what happened to them shaped who they are but also how their own personalities determined their personalities also. There is a really good balance of nature and nurture. The thing I found hard was the timeline changes. I found that the jump between them was very sudden and I got confused as to what time period I was reading about, Despite this, I got very absorbed in the story and would recommend it
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A difficult book about grief, loss and forgiveness. 

Bridge of Clay tells the story of the Dunbar brothers who are forced to fend for themselves after the death of their brother and the disappearance of their father. The boys find themselves all alone in a house with no rules. That is until their absentee father returns and asks his sons for help where there can be none. However one son agrees. Clay.

Written by the the best selling author Markus Zusak, responsible for the much loved The Book Thief, this book has been over a decade in the making. It’s a big book, weighing in at over 600 pages. At times it certainly felt like it. I found myself persevering with it when normally I wouldn’t. The first third of the book was massively confusing for me as the timelines jumped back and forth. There appeared to be little structure to this and seemed erratic, however, thankfully, the book settled and became more readable as it progressed.

It’s a slow, character driven piece that many may take pleasure in but for me it was something of a slog with so much unnecessary filler. The brothers all
have personalities of their own but the author does not dwell long enough to make them interesting, perhaps apart from Clay.The most interesting character for me was the mother and the backstory of her journey from communist Poland to her arrival in Australia
Unfortunately I mostly ended up losing interest in the characters

I’m unsure why I was compelled to finish, it  did keep eating away at me and made me  want to give it another go. It may be that the author does write beautifully at times and the prose is almost poetical (but perhaps overly?)

My initial reaction  was that I didn’t enjoy the book however I still find myself thinking about this book some time later. Perhaps the author wants you to work at it and makes it a purposely difficult read so that the reward is greater? 

It’s an odd,confusing  book about love, loss, building bridges, (literally and metaphorically) and forgiveness. Did I enjoy it? Weeks later I’m still conflicted! 
Give it a go, maybe?
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I really love this book. Completely different and unusual enough to remind me a little of James Joyce. I realised from page one that this was a book that took you for an unexpected ride so I just followed the story and the characters in their journey. This is nothing like the Book's thief so don't read it expecting something similar because you may be disappointed. I enjoyed this book for many reasons, the main one was the way it broke the mould that's too often applies to best-selling novels that are actually just a clone of something else. This is totally unique and well worth reading.
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There is a very literal bridge at the centre of Bridge of Clay. It’s lovingly hand built and inspired by the Roman wonder Pont Du Gard — the UNESCO heritage aqueduct that spans a humble river in the South of France. That bridge has three tiers of carefully crafted archways, each building on the other, and gradually jigsawing together. Pont du Gard's hefty stone blocks hold together through friction alone, without the use of mortar.

I think it’s fair to say there’s lot in the literary structure of Bridge of Clay, that — probably both intentionally and unintentionally — mirror the structure of its famous Roman inspiration. You arch through the story, dipping your toes in here and there. Key events are hinted at, and circled around, long before they’re revealed, and many things are overstated or understated as they’re fed through the perspective of the narrator, Matthew; the oldest of five brothers. Bricks of narrative are carefully crafted, then slotted into place one at a time, although not chronologically. Gradually, gradually, the full form comes into focus and you can see your way to the other side. And, like the Pont du Gard, it’s a friction-held feat of structural engineering you’re never quite sure is going to hold.  

The bridge metaphor may seem laboured, but I can only imagine that the book was constructed with exactly this in mind. A vision of the Pont Du Gard in word form. But the beauty of Bridge of Clay is for all its magnificent strides and epic reaches, the core story is a simpler one: five emotionally illiterate boys mourning the death of their mother. We’re told early on: “Our mother was dead. Our father had fled.” Leaving the five ‘Dunbar boys’ living a semi-feral existence in suburban Australia, under the loose guardianship of the oldest brother Matthew. Matthew is old enough to earn a living and pay the bills, but despite his best efforts, his four brothers are largely left to process their grief, and find their way, alone. We also dip into the backstory of their mother, Penny, a concert pianist who escaped the USSR to become first a cleaner and then an English Language teacher; and their father, Michael, a small town artist with a broken heart, who had given up on life before meeting Penny. There is also Carey, one brother’s would-be girlfriend and a talented apprentice jockey. The boys live in Sydney’s racing quarter and racing symbolism looms almost as large as the bridge.

But the five brothers themselves are what truly bring the book to life; they’re not the kind of characters who usually populate the pages of literary fiction. Clay, the second youngest brother, forms the centre of the story, and he barely speaks. Tommy was only five when their mother died and has spent the intervening years caring for the animals his brothers have gifted to him in a clumsy attempt to fill the hole. Henry is the wise-cracking wheeler-dealer, and the second-oldest Rory has “scrap-metal eyes,” They all repress, rather than express their feelings, and when their emotions do come out it is through either comedy, or more often, violence. Words aren’t their strong point, despite their mother’s obsessive love of the Odyssey and the Iliad; the drama of which has rooted down in each boy’s soul. So, when Matthew does finally set finger to ancient typewriter to narrate this story, his narrative style is a little on the overblown and dramatic side.

So, there’s an Ancient Greek-inspired narrative style to go with the Ancient Roman-inspired narrative  structure.
Depending on your taste, that Pont du Gard-like structural gameplay can be a thrilling puzzle to solve, or a patience-trying irritation. Or sometimes a bit of both. You can’t help wondering if there isn’t a simpler way to get to the other side. And of course there is, but that would be missing the point. Sometimes you have to build a bridge to show you can, and as a reader you can choose to be part of that, or not. It certainly takes patience and faith to wait while all those inter-connecting story-bricks slot, one by one, into place. Yes, maybe those bricks could have been packed a little more tightly together. Maybe there was one ostentatious arch too many. But the characters are good enough, and unusual enough, to pull you through regardless. And there’s no denying the audacity of the ambitious scale, and that’s an impressive thing in itself.
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Bridge of Clay follows five brothers as they face abandonment from their father, and the ultimate quest for forgiveness and what it means to be a family. Oh, and building a bridge. 

I found this really difficult to read, and I’m unsure if it’s a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ or the other way round. I bought The Book Thief when it was first released (I have the hardback first edition floating around at my mother’s house somewhere) but I wasn’t all that impressed with Zusak’s writing style. When I received at ARC for this I was willing to give him another go, but I think I may have to admit defeat. 

The story is so complicated, with a style of prose I really hate, so that descriptions become paragraphs with long metaphorical meanings. It made the pacing about as slow as wading through mud, and it was incredibly hard to stay afloat. The meandering pace just killed off any interest I might have had in the plot. It also jumps between past, present and future which I found incredibly frustrating and difficult to follow. 

I also didn’t really connect with any of the brothers, and didn’t really care about their various issues which seemed so central to the story. I mean, one of the brothers becomes obsessed with bridge building, and not the metaphorical kind, which unfortunately I was never going to find appealing anyway. The bond between the brothers is quite nice, and there’s an obvious familial love running through the story, but they all across as emotionless hardy men who began to all blend into one. 

Not for me unfortunately. I think I may have to leave Zusak’s work to the majority.
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