Dana Kennedy
November 04, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

”I ask myself over and over, ‘What happened to me in Madison County, Iowa?’ And I struggle to bring it together.”

The words belong to Robert Kincaid, the National Geographic photographer whose brief encounter with a lonely farmwife, Francesca Johnson, is the centerpiece of the megaselling novel The Bridges of Madison County. Now it’s up to actor-director Clint Eastwood to bring it together on film in the estimated $20 million movie version, now wrapping a location shoot in Madison County, Iowa. (Exclusive photos Eastwood took on the set appear on page 45.) What with heavyweight costar Meryl Streep, Eastwood’s struggle may not be as daunting as Kincaid’s. Though Streep has admitted she didn’t particularly care for the book, she liked the script enough to sign on as Francesca. The two play lovers who get together for only four days but carry a torch for one another for the next 24 years. Robert James Waller’s book is showing signs of similar longevity: It’s been on the best-seller list for more than two years (with 5.3 million copies in print). And who knows? Considering the excitement the celluloid Bridges might generate when it’s released next summer, Robert and Francesca’s tryst could turn readers on for years to come. Talk about an affair to remember.

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