Thursday, May 5, 2016

Book Review: The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner

The Bridge Ladies cover

The Bridge Ladies

by Betsy Lerner

 Hardcover: 320 pages

 Publisher: Harper Wave (May 3, 2016)

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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.

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.

The Bridge Ladies reminded me of Tuesdays with Morrie, except it takes place on Mondays and has five Morries. Exquisitely written.” — Will Schwalbe, author of the New York Times bestseller The End of Your Life Book Club

“This is the best book about mothers and daughters I’ve read in decades, maybe ever.” — Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America

“A beautifully written, bittersweet story of ladies of a certain age and era.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This is a book with heart and feeling.” — George Hodgman, author of Bettyville

“In Lerner’s beautifully observed account, Bridge becomes both a literal and figurative pathway to repairing an even more precious bond: her own relationship to her mother.” — Deborah Tannen, author of You Just Don’t Understand and You're Wearing THAT?

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

“Yes, my mother has told me about Eugene Genovese a hundred times, the Italian boy she had a huge crush on. It's her West Side Story without the snapping.”

“The recipe looks like a panel from the Dead Sea Scrolls: stained many times over with fish grease, darkened with age spots like the back of an older person's hand, annotated with figures for doubling the recipe, and unidentified schmutz... 'Now we take out the eyes,' my mother says with too much gusto. And then without warning she raises a knife, Norman Bates style, and plunges it into the eye of the fish. A wave of nausea moves through me, and I feel like I might faint.”

“When it's Travis's turn to discard, he tilts his seat back, legs spread wide, and flicks a card into the center of the table as if he were an outlaw, gun cocked, ready for a shoot-out on a dusty main street. In other words, the guy's a douche, but I find him fascinating.”

“The house grew quiet when they played a hand, interrupted by chatter when they'd shuffle the cards and deal a new hand. Sometimes they called it 'washing the cards,' and I couldn't help but think of a soapy sink where the cards were submerged, my mother's hands in pink latex gloves washing each one and affixing it to a clothesline with a pin.”

My Review:

Being a memoir, The Bridge Ladies is brimming with insightful self-revelations and memories, some of which squeezed my heart while many provoked smirking and barking aloud from the humorous use of metaphor and juxtapositions. The writing was entertaining and plump with lush descriptions that I could almost taste, see, and feel. Each scene was fully set from the floor to the ceiling with rich and juicy word choices. Being the exact same age as the author, I greatly enjoyed her thoughts, observations, and feelings spanning the different stages and periods of her life, and recalled having identical ideas and chaffing at the same constraints and having similar thoughts and reactions to my own parents at the time; which is rather remarkable given the vast disparity in our geographic locals, religious teachings, and social experiences. It was an eye opener and a wonderful read for a rainy spring day.

Empress DJ

Betsy Lerner APAbout Betsy Lerner

Betsy Lerner is the author of The Forest for the Trees and Food and Loathing. She is a recipient of the Thomas Wolfe Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets Poetry Prize, and the Tony Godwin Prize for Editors, and was selected as one of PEN’s Emerging Writers. Lerner is a partner with the literary agency Dunow, Carlson & Lerner and resides in New Haven, Connecticut.

Find out more about Betsy at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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