The Bridge Ladies
For the past fifty years, Monday afternoons in New Haven have always been the same: Roz, Rhoda, Bea, Jackie and Bette - the Bridge Ladies. A card table with four folding chairs (and one dummy seat). A plate of homemade cookies or brownies on the kitchen counter somewhere, largely untouched. And once they begin the game, hours of silence, punctuated only by the sound of cards being plucked up or snapped down.
As a child, Betsy Lerner thought the Bridge Ladies were fascinatingly chic, with their frosted hair-dos and shiny nylons. To the teenage Betsy, they seemed hopelessly square. As an adult, working in New York City, they were a relic of her past. But when her husband accepted a job in New Haven, she found herself right back where she started.
Suddenly, the Bridge Ladies came hurtling back, their Monday lunch and Bridge Club still ongoing. They had accepted their lot in life and were, mostly, grateful. They didn't talk about their problems, much less those involving sex, relationships, or their children. On paper, they were unremarkable, even dull. But once Betsy started really looking at them, she realized that they were anything but.
Wildly perceptive and, in turns, hilarious and fearlessly vulnerable, Lerner's memoir is required reading for anyone who has ever had a mother. And it teaches us an important lesson: Facebook may connect us across the world, but social media can't deliver a pot roast and it won't dry your tears.
Through the alchemy of a grand game, Betsy Lerner has woven a universal coming of age story for both mother and daughter. A poignant, humorous and often painful struggle through the pageantry of playing cards; a woman's face on every one.
Patti Smith, author of Just Kids and M Train
This is the best book about mothers and daughters I've read in decades, maybe ever. I just loved it, related to it viscerally, kept calling up my daughters to read passages aloud to them. It's about - in addition to bridge of course - mother-daughter conflict, the desire to love and be loved, aging and loss, discovery and renewal. Betsy Lerner is a beautiful, achingly honest writer, and The Bridge Ladies is at once heartbreaking and hilarious, uplifting and profound
Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package
The Bridge Ladies reminded me of Tuesdays With Morrie, except that it takes place on Mondays and it has five Morries. In this exquisitely written book, there's humor, candor, no-nonsense wisdom - and portraits of five women whose like we won't see again. I devoured it in one greedy sitting, and started re-reading as soon as I finished.
Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club