The Bridges of Madison County: A Summary

“The Bridges of Madison County” is a novel by Robert James Waller, published in 1992. The story follows the love affair between a married woman named Francesca Johnson and a traveling photographer named Robert Kincaid, who meet in rural Iowa in the 1960s.


The novel is set in Madison County, Iowa, in the 1960s. The story is told from the perspective of Francesca’s adult children, who discover their mother’s diaries after her death and learn about her secret love affair with a photographer.

The Main Concepts of The Bridges of Madison County

Theme 1: Love and Sacrifice

The central theme of the novel is the power of love and sacrifice. The story explores the intense love affair between Francesca and Robert, and the sacrifices they make for each other despite the obstacles in their way.

Theme 2: Loneliness and Isolation

The novel also touches on issues of loneliness and isolation, as both Francesca and Robert feel disconnected from their own lives and find solace in each other’s company.

Theme 3: Regret and Nostalgia

The novel is framed by the perspective of Francesca’s adult children, who discover their mother’s diaries after her death and reflect on the choices she made and the life she led.

Plot Summary

The novel begins with Francesca, a married woman living on a farm in rural Iowa, meeting Robert, a traveling photographer who is in town to take pictures of the covered bridges in the area. Despite their different backgrounds and the fact that Francesca is married with children, the two quickly form a deep connection and begin an intense love affair.

Over the course of four days, Francesca and Robert explore the countryside and share their deepest thoughts and feelings with each other. However, their happiness is short-lived, as Francesca ultimately chooses to remain with her husband and family rather than leave with Robert.

The novel jumps forward in time to the present day, where Francesca’s adult children discover her diaries and learn about her secret love affair. The children are forced to confront their own feelings of regret and nostalgia as they reflect on their mother’s life and the choices she made.


“The Bridges of Madison County” is a powerful and emotional novel that explores the complexities of love, sacrifice, and regret. The story has been adapted into a popular film and has touched the hearts of millions of readers around the world.

Leave a Comment