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“The Bridge Ladies” by Betsy Lerner is a memoir about relationships between mothers and daughters. The author was 55 when she wrote about her 83-year-old mother, Roz.
In her mother’s generation, wives stayed home, cooked, and cared for their families. It was assumed a wife would have children as soon as she married, and of course she was a virgin. She married for life and divorce was not really an option.
Betsy, by the time she was 13, rebelled against every word her mother spoke. She wanted a career; she was not even sure she would marry, and if she did it might not be to a nice Jewish man.
Betsy did marry outside her religion to a nice Catholic man, making her mother wonder if she should even attend the ceremony.
Now years later, Betsy is a successful editor and a partner at her own literary agency. She has a daughter Roz loves dearly. However, whenever Betsy sees her mother, Roz still makes some comment about how she is not dressed properly or how she should use only cold water when running the disposal. Once when Betsy is giving a party her mother shows up unannounced to polish her silver.
When Betsy finds her mother and her daughter working together, she loses it. The only thing she remembers is her mother leaving the house still in her apron and deciding that very minute that she, Betsy, needed to see a new therapist.
Betsy relocates from Manhattan to New Haven and is now only 12 1/2 minutes away from her mother. She decides she will never be a good mother herself if she does not make peace with Roz.
She remembers as a child her mother playing bridge every Monday with the same women. The Bridge Ladies have been together forever. In fact, for the last 50 years they have played bridge together on Monday afternoons. Betsy sets out to interview each of the five women including Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie, and, in the process, begins to understand their generation. The author sat in on her mother’s bridge club for nearly three years.
Then Betsy becomes enamored of the game itself and decides to take lessons. Bridge is a complicated game. It requires attention and memory skills. It brings people together. It has held the Bridge Ladies together for half a century.
And yet, Betsy discovers, the young generations of today play almost no bridge. Betsy writes, “She saw something her generation lacked; Facebook was great, but it wouldn’t deliver a pot roast.”
Betsy Lerner captures their essence and their personalities over the 50 years that the author’s mother’s bridge club has been together.