Linda Bow, Robert James Waller’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

robert james waller

James Robert Waller. (Photo by Diane Freed)

Robert James Waller, the Bridges of Madison County author, who died at the age of 77, had a tangled romantic history that was worthy of his books.

Waller was married twice, most recently to Linda Bow (sometimes known as Linda Bow Waller).

Waller’s romance with Bow, to some degree, mirrored the romance in his famous book, according to Texas Monthly. However, unlike the doomed romance in Bridges, Waller remained married to Bow until his death, the magazine reported.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Bow Was a Ranch Foreman With Whom Waller Reportedly Had an Affair

In Bridges, a bestselling romance novel that led to a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, Eastwood’s character has an affair with a farm wife who decides not to leave her long-time husband.

However, in real life, reports Texas Monthly, Waller had an affair with Bow, “a married woman 24 years his junior” and the foreman of his ranch. Texas Monthly attributes the report, in part, to the child of Waller and his first wife. Waller then married Bow.

The affair occurred after Waller sold millions of Bridges books. He was 58, and she was 34. People Magazine also reported on the tangled love triangle.

2. Waller’s Book, ‘Border Music’ Has a Character Similar to Bow to Some Degree

Texas Monthly reports that Waller’s book Border Music, contains a character called Linda Lobo who bears some similarities to Bow.

However, Waller did not know Bow when he wrote that book either, so it may have been a case of life imitating art after the fact, not art imitating life.

Waller had moved to a Texas Ranch in 1994 after his book success drove fans to his Iowa home, reported AZCentral.

Waller told the Sacramento Bee in 2005 of his life with Bow: “I’m happily married now. We had a seven-year courtship and got married a year ago, so I’m sort of a newlywed.”

3. Waller Was Married to His First Wife, Georgia, for 36 Years

Waller’s first wife was Georgia Ann Wiedemeier, and they had his only child together, Rachael Waller. The Texas Monthly article says that Waller’s daughter, Rachael, said “she and her mother confronted her father and Linda separately about the rumors, ‘but there was no proof, and they denied it.'”

Bow continued to work with the Wallers and even went overseas to India with them, the article reported, quoting Rachael as saying, “My mother thought she’d give her a chance to go somewhere she had never been” but Bow admitted to the affair on the trip and Georgia’s heart “was broken into a million pieces,” the couple’s daughter told the Texas magazine.

Rachael Waller is a photographer who “has photographed various Tribal cultures, artists, musicians, Cowboys, ranches, multi-million dollar horses and the life on the range,” according to Artwalk 2016.

4. Waller’s Book Was One of the Most Successful Novels in History

According to AZCentral, Bridges of Madison County became “one of the most beloved (by readers, not by critics) and popular novels of the late 20th century, with sales of 12 million.”

Critics thought the book was sappy, but readers fell for the story of the romance between a photographer, Robert Kinkaid, and a farm wife, Francesca Johnson. Meryl Streep played Francesca in the movie.

5. Waller’s Literary Agent Confirmed He Has Died & the Cause of Death Was Cancer Complications

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Waller died on March 9 or 10 at the age of 77, his literary agent confirmed.

According to The Sacramento Bee, he died in Texas and had been ill. He died “from complications of pneumonia and multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells,” according to The Courier.