Published by Harper Wave on May 3, 2016
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours for review consideration.
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A fifty-year-old bridge game, and the secrets it held, provides an unexpected way to cross the generational divide between the author and her mother: Betsy Lerner takes us on an intimate and powerfully personal literary journey where we learn a little about bridge and a lot about life.
After a lifetime of defining herself against her mother’s Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell generation, Betsy Lerner, a poster child for the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ’n’ Roll generation, finds herself back in her childhood home of New Haven, Connecticut, not five miles from the mother she spent a lifetime avoiding. When Roz needs help after surgery, it falls to Betsy to take care of her. She expected a week of tense civility; what she got instead were the Bridge Ladies. Impressed with their loyalty, she realized her generation was lacking. Facebook was great, but it wouldn’t deliver a pot roast.
Tentatively at first, Betsy becomes a regular fixture at her mother’s Monday Bridge Club. Before long, she braves the intimidating world of Bridge and comes under its spell. But it is through her friendships with the ladies that she is finally able face years of misunderstandings and family tragedy. The Bridge Ladies become a Greek chorus, a catalyst for change between mother and daughter.
By turns darkly funny and deeply moving, The Bridge Ladies brilliantly weaves the stories of the Bridge Ladies, along with those of Betsy and her mother across a lifetime of missed opportunities. The result is an unforgettable and profound journey into a hard-won—but never-too-late—bond between mother and daughter.
In The Bridge Ladies, Betsy Lerner begins to heal the gap between mother and daughter by getting involved in one of her mother’s favorite pastimes: bridge.
“I sensed, even that first night, that Bridge was a metaphor for many things.”
After Lerner’s mother has surgery, her long-time friends—as a child Lerner coined them “The Bridge Ladies”—swoop in to help. Touched by their concern, Lerner makes a point to get to know them better, and learns a lot about her mother (and herself) in the process. She fights off her apprehension about learning something complicated and new by signing up for lessons at the Manhattan Bridge Club. The portions that focused on bridge mechanics made my eyes glaze over a little, because I never got a feel for how the game is actually played (I’m not a card player at all). But Lerner never stayed on these sections for long, quickly moving on to observations about and interactions with the people she met. And that’s where this memoir shines.
This book ripped my heart out and made me laugh. I loved the slightly off-color humor that peeked through from time to time. It also made me miss having my grandparents around to talk to. The Bridge Ladies is about the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters, about the baggage that comes with caring for aging parents, about the life lessons we learn from older generations…but most importantly, it’s about people making meaningful connections with each other.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this book and including me on the book tour!