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The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir by Betsy Lerner
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The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir

by Betsy Lerner

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I've never been the biggest fan of biographies, but over the past few months, I've read and enoyed a few great memoirs (Roald Dahl's Boy, Tara Westover's Educated, Trevor Noah's Born a Crime) and throught I might like to continue the trend. To that end, I googled a few "best of" lists online and ordered put five on hold at the library, and this is one of them.

From its description and a few reviews, The Bridge Ladies seemed like it would be a really fun, quirky memoir, and a nice change of pace from the harrowing (though interesting) tales of abuse, sexism, racism, and religious fanaticism in the memoirs I've read lately. This book started off well enough, but never really seemed to get going, and by page 46, my interest had waned—and worse, there didn't seem to be any chance of it picking up later.

Part of the problem was that I just couldn't connect with the author. About the time she mentioned spending years in therapy, where she says she "alternately blamed [her] mother for all [her] ills, felt compassion for her, judged her, hated her, and accepted her," I knew this wasn't the book for me (p. 45). The lifestyle where everyone has a therapist and talks about their therapy sessions at cocktail parties is completely foreign to me, and there was nothing about the book that drew me into that world or helped me to understand it. Even though, on the surface, my life is closer to Betsy Lerner's than to Trevor Noah's or Tara Westover's, I felt a much greater connection to their stories than to (what I read of) Lerner's.

To be fair to Lerner, this may have as much to do with my life and relationship with my mother as it does with her writing. I grew up an only child living with my mother, who died when I was eighteen. We were extraordinarily close. I can perfectly understand Trevor Noah's love and respect for his awesome mother, and I can empathize with Tara Westover's painful and complicated relationship with the mother who often failed to protect her or support her, but the idea of not really being close to one's mother, not having much of a relationship with her, baffles me. ( )
  Enyonam | Aug 15, 2018 |
Any commentary I may make will be found on Litsy. ( )
  Jinjer.Hundley | Mar 24, 2018 |
Although this absorbing memoir is about the game of bridge, it is also about bridging gaps – both the generational gap and the “personal gulf” that had defined Lerner’s relationship with her mother. At age 54, Lerner finds herself back in her childhood town of New Haven, CT, and reentering the life of her widowed 83-year-old mother from whom she spent decades avoiding. There she saw something her generation lacked. Facebook was great, but it wouldn’t deliver a pot roast!
This delightful memoir revolves around Learner’s mom and the four other elegantly dressed ladies that continue to gather at each other’s homes to play bridge every Monday at noon for 55 years. Lerner tells the stories of this group of suburban Jewish women who grew up determined to form successful Jewish families with beautiful achievement-oriented children despite the fact they themselves may have faced their own personal demons and struggles. Lerner probes marriage, career, motherhood, postpartum depression, aging, death, assisted living, dementia, widowhood, religion, and sex. Their courage and commitment to their families and their determined Jewish way of life are often not fully appreciated or understood by their offspring. Betsy Lerner helps us to better understand these women and provides them with the respect and dignity they fully deserve. Mothers and daughters, bridge players or not, will equally enjoy this beautifully written story of women who came of age in the 1940’s and ‘50s .
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Nov 12, 2017 |
The author and her family move close to her mother in CN. In order to make peace and to get to know her mother better, she begins to go to her mother's bridge club. She ends up making peace, understanding how her mother's generation lived, and learning how to play bridge. EXCELLENT! ( )
  LivelyLady | Jul 17, 2017 |
I was reminded of The Joy Luck Club while reading this true story about a woman who joins her octogenarian mother's bridge club. It was a pleasant read overall and a nice study on the relationship between mothers and daughters. There are also some nice tidbits on East Coast Jewish culture. ( )
  StefanieGeeks | Jul 13, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062354469, Hardcover)

A fifty-year-old Bridge game provides an unexpected way to cross the generational divide between a daughter and her mother. Betsy Lerner takes us on a powerfully personal literary journey, where we learn a little about Bridge and a lot about life.

After a lifetime defining herself in contrast to her mother’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” generation, Lerner finds herself back in her childhood home, not five miles from the mother she spent decades 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 by their loyalty, she saw something her generation lacked. Facebook was great, but it wouldn’t deliver a pot roast.

Tentatively at first, Betsy becomes a regular at her mother’s Monday Bridge club. Through her friendships with the ladies, she is finally able to face years of misunderstandings and family tragedy, the Bridge table becoming the common ground she and Roz never had.

By turns darkly funny and deeply moving, The Bridge Ladies is the unforgettable story of a hard-won—but never-too-late—bond between mother and daughter.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 16 Jan 2016 22:37:39 -0500)

"A fifty-year-old Bridge game provides an unexpected way to cross the generational divide between a daughter and her mother. Betsy Lerner takes us on a powerfully personal literary journey, where we learn a little about Bridge and a lot about life.After a lifetime defining herself in contrast to her mother's "don't ask, don't tell" generation, Lerner finds herself back in her childhood home, not five miles from the mother she spent decades 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 by their loyalty, she saw something her generation lacked. Facebook was great, but it wouldn't deliver a pot roast.Tentatively at first, Betsy becomes a regular at her mother's Monday Bridge club. Through her friendships with the ladies, she is finally able to face years of misunderstandings and family tragedy, the Bridge table becoming the common ground she and Roz never had.By turns darkly funny and deeply moving, The Bridge Ladies is the unforgettable story of a hard-won--but never-too-late--bond between mother and daughter"--… (more)

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