I finished Bridge of Sighs.
Maybe it's because I work in a small town, family business, but I felt myself understanding the slow, plodding nature of Louie, and his ferocious love of place. Louie's school friend, Bobby, on the other hand, flees not only the town, but the country. In Europe he turns into a famous painter.
The town of Thomaston, NY, where Richard Russo plants his novel, is (like New Hope) populated with solid people who discover how versatile the human heart is, wonder if it is better to love or to be loved, wonder if it is better to aspire to something great or to embrace a comfortable life, and wonder what 'family' truly means.
After finishing this book you feel you know Russo's town of Thomaston as well as your own. You feel you could meet any of the characters at John and Peter's or any small town bar.
I couldn't help thinking of this book as a story of Richard Russo's own dueling personality. On one hand, we have the small town boy (like Russo) who loves his small town. On the other hand, we have the small town boy (like Russo) who leaves as soon as possible to become a famous artist.
Don't want to take my word for it? Here is a good review from the New Yorker Magazine.