While Russo keeps his traditional setting of upstate New York intact, he goes in a different direction with his main character's father issues. This time, his protagonist, Lucy Lynch (an unwelcome corruption of Lou C. Lynch) dwells on a father who is caring and ever-present. Big Lou isn't the brightest bulb, but he's a kind-hearted soul and Lucy adores him. This adoration and Lucy's instant nostalgia for every aspect of Thomaston, NY fills page after page of a memoir Lucy is working on. And Lucy, apparently, doesn't possess Russo's economy with words. The novel feels about two hundred pages too long.
There are welcome breaks in Lucy's story to recount the modern day life of his childhood friend, Bobby, who has become a famous painter, and Sarah Berg, the woman who loves both boys and eventually marries Lucy and settles in Thomaston with him. Bobby's character provides the Absent Father story line that is prevalent in so much of Russo's work, but this time the father is an abusive bully instead of the happy-go-lucky wastrels of the earlier novels.
The problem in Bridge of Sighs is with the pretext of the memoir Lucy is writing. Lucy's pie-eyed vision of his beloved hometown isn't meant to be taken at face value--he's an unreliable narrator and we depend on the stories of Bobby and Sarah to get the real scoop. In the end, it feels as if Russo has pasted these various viewpoints together once he realized that Lucy's tale wasn't much more than a wordy postcard to his town and his father. The last hundred pages nearly redeemed the book with a couple of surprises, but the saccharine ending confirmed the feelings of frustration that accompanied the rest of Bridge of Sighs.