March, 2017: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

(Book #83) Mary hosted the finest meal in all of Peruvian cuisine which precipitated eight book club members into the gulf of uncharted gastronomy. Yes that’s something like how the book starts. Mary started us with chips, salsa and wonderful wine, then moved us to the table to enjoy a salad of greens, tomato, cucumber and mango. The main dish was Pollo a la Brasa which required the special order of three spices Mary had never used before. The chicken was served with the most delightfully tangy green sauce that some of us wanted to drink by the glass. Mary rounded out the meal with roasted corn, tomatoes and french fries. For dessert we were treated to a Chocolate Turron served with Dulce de Leche ice cream. 

Discussion of the book was not nearly as exciting as the meal because we couldn’t help feeling that exploring the lives of those who fell with the bridge was a belabored endeavor, given that the conclusion was one that could be guessed at from the outset. We appreciated the writing particularly the quote that was used in a speech after 9/11 that is referenced in the Bonus Question. The Bonus Question included in the nasty quiz:

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The movie starts with the archbishop speaking in the cathedral.  How does the book start?

  1. It starts with Brother Juniper telling the archbishop the bridge had fallen.
  2. It starts with an introduction of the five people who were on the bridge when it fell.
  3. It starts with the statement of the date and time that the bridge fell and that the five travelers on the bridge fell into the gulf.
  4. It starts in the church just as the movie does.

The movie is framed by Brother Juniper’s trial for heresy? Is this how the book is framed as well?

  1. No
  2. Yes

The movie introduces the travelers on the bridge beginning with the Marquesa (played by Kathy Bates) but then weaves a chronological story with the other travelers coming into the story as it unfolds. Is this the way the story is told in the book.

  1. Yes, we meet each of the characters in a somewhat chronological manner.
  2. No, the Marquesa, Esteban and Uncle Pio are each given their own “Part” in the book.
  3. No, the Marquesa, Pepita, Esteban, Uncle Pio and Don Jaime are each given their own “Part” of the book.
  4. No, the Marquesa, Pepita, Manuel, Uncle Pio and Don Jaime are each given their own “Part” of the book.

In the movie, Uncle Pio states that he has three main goals? Is this true in the book?

  1. No, there is no mention of his goals.
  2. Yes, he lists the goals of 1) independence, 2) being near beautiful women, and 3) being around the literature of Spain
  3. Yes, he lists the goals of 1) being able to drink good wine, 2) being near beautiful women, and 3) being around the literature of Spain.
  4. No, in the book he lists four goals, 1) good health, 2) being able to drink good wine, 3) being around beautiful women and 4) being around the literature of Spain.

I don’t know how the first twin to die, did so in the movie because I couldn’t stand the terrible audio in the film, but in the book it was _______, and he died because ___________.

  1. Manuel, he wounded his knee on a piece of metal and died from infection.
  2. Manuel, he was stung several times by a swarm of bees.
  3. Manuel, he was broken by Perichole’s refusal of him.
  4. Esteban, he fell when the bridge collapsed.

Bonus Question:  What world leader used a quote from The Bridge of San Luis Rey at a dedication in New York for victims of the attack on the World Trade Center?

Bonus Question #2: The quote used in the book “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.” is not original to Thornton Wilder?  Who wrote it?

A favorite quote before I record the answers:  “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

Answers: 3, 1, 2, 2, 1, Tony Blair and William Shakespeare.