From the outside it would appear Melody Hill, the main character and narrator of Jessica Bell’s debut novel, String Bridge, has a perfect life. She lives in Athens with her charming Greek music promoter husband, she has an adorably precocious daughter, and she has a dream job as an editor for a publishing company with a promotion and raise in the offing.
But getting deeper into her story, the reader finds what’s hidden behind this façade and her wanting-to-please-everyone persona. She is frightened by her husband’s abusive yelling and mortified at finding out he has had an affair. She is suffering from the effects of her mother’s erratic bipolar behavior and worries that she is bipolar herself. She is constantly searching for help from her silent but loving father. And she regrets giving up her music career for a life that she can hardly bear anymore.
That author Bell is a poet is evident through her use of metaphors, rhyme, and repetition. As I said in my review of her book of poetry, Twisted Velvet Chain, Bell is “a genius at portraying the raw and the dark parts of life through her use of clipped lines, staccatos, onomatopoeia, and descriptions of icky body fluids.”
In String Bridge she describes a character sometimes so disheveled that she wears unmatched shoes to work, she doesn’t wash off yesterday’s smeared makeup or bother to separate whites from darks in the washing machine, and her buttons pop off her dress during a public speech. Melody always seems to be cleaning up jammy fingers or other messes. Bell excels in showing life’s little details.
This is a novel that has it all: regret, romance, sex, desire, guilt, an adorable child, a bumpy marriage, mental illness, a devastating tragedy, and the promise of a live-happily- ever-after-ending. But, that ending doesn’t negate the ever-increasing struggle to get there. String Bridge is a wonderful read, well worth going through the struggle to find out what happens to Melody Hill and her family in the end.
For more information please go to: String Bridge (a novel): http://www.stringbridge.com/
Causes Madeline Sharples Supports
Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, Culver City, CA
Vistamar School, El Segundo, CA
Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA (Endowment in...