MRS. BRIDGE by Evan Connell is written in much the same style as its companion novel MR BRIDGE which came about a decade later. I wrote about MR BRIDGE here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2012/08/mr-bridge-by-evan-s-connell.html
A clever idea such as showing a marriage and family life from the differing perspectives of a husband and wife through two novels doesn’t mean anything without good writing and Connell delivers. Written in the exact same style as MR BRIDGE with short chapters and brief, punchy sentences, MRS BRIDGE tells a slightly different story.
MRS BRIDGE is a woman who has allowed her husband to totally dominate her life. She is a relentlessly passive marshmallow who still retains some interest in doing something different but never acts on them other than attending woman’s group meetings (where she is scolded by a speaker representing pre-feminist thought).
Therefore the view of their world and the world at large is presented slightly differently. Some events Mr Bridge experiences are not discussed in MRS BRIDGE as they pertain only to him. Ditto for Mrs. Bridge. There is not as much discussion about politics and the world situation, the growing world war etc. (The Bridges novels take place in the 1930’s) but that makes sense as Mrs Bridge is much less interested in world affairs.
MR BRIDGE ends at an earlier time than MRS BRIDGE. In MRS BRIDGE we find out about her daughter Carolyn’s unhappy marriage, her son Douglas’s military service and SPOILER the death of Mr Bridge. MR BRIDGE ends before all these things happen. Ruth the oldest daughter is not as big a character in MRS BRIDGE as we get a less explicit take on her sexual promiscuity.
In addition, Mrs Bridge’s take on events that happen in both books are slightly different as she is a different person. For example: Grace Barron’s suicide and The Bridges’ European vacation. Mrs Bridge is more sensitive and her reflection is deeper.
All in all, taken together, the two books are a masterwork, a master class in form and character development and telling a story. However, MR BRIDGE which was written after MRS BRIDGE with Connell writing a few books in between is the slightly better more realized novel. Connell totally captures the powerless passivity of Mrs. Bridge but perhaps he developed and grew as a writer between the writing of these two books.