The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder's second novel, won him the first of his three Pulitzer Prizes. The novel opens in the aftermath of an inexplicable tragedy—a tiny footbridge in Peru breaks, and five travelers hurtle to their deaths. Most townspeople think to themselves with secret joy, "Within 10 minutes myself...."
But for Brother Juniper, a humble Franciscan friar who witnesses the catastrophe, the question is inescapable: Why those five? Suddenly, Brother Juniper is committed to discover what manner of lives these five disparate people led—and whether it was divine intervention that took their lives, or a capricious fate.
Wilder maintained in his works that true meaning and beauty are found in ordinary experience. This is especially true of The Bridge of San Luis Rey. From the very beginning to the stunning conclusion, the listener is absorbed into the individual stories of the five victims, and how their destinies intertwine.