• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Build Me Up Buttercup Don’t Break my Heart



My Bridge Lady, Roslyn Lerner

Guys!! It’s my first freakin’ review and it’s good!!  I’m like dancing in the streets while watching LUTHER. It doesn’t really get much better than that. Oh wait, it does. I CARBS for dinner!!

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY The Bridge Ladies Betsy Lerner. Harper Wave, $25.99 (272 pgs)

This absorbing memoir by literary agent and author Lerner (The Forest for the Trees) is about the game of bridge, but it’s also about bridging gaps—both the generational gap and the “personal gulf” that had defined Lerner’s relationship with her mother. At age 54, due to her husband’s job relocation, Lerner finds herself back in her hometown of New Haven, Conn., where her 83-year-old widowed mother still resides. Hoping to repair at least some of the rifts between them, she somewhat reluctantly re-enters her mother’s life and begins attending her Monday afternoon bridge game, first as an observer and later—after taking lessons at the Manhattan Bridge Club—as an occasional participant. Along with descriptions of her bridge lessons, Lerner shares the histories of the elegantly dressed New Haven ladies who have met weekly for 55 years, women who came of age in the 1940s and ’50s. As Lerner probes marriage, career, motherhood, postpartum depression, aging, death, assisted living, dementia, widowhood, religion, and sex, she discovers that although her mother and her bridge companions differ in some ways from her own generation (for example, they felt that marriage to a Jewish man trumped pursuing a career), they share common values of love and kinship. She also draws closer to her mother, gaining a deeper understanding of her interior life, including the rarely discussed childhood death of Lerner’s sister. This beautifully written, bittersweet story of ladies of a certain age and era will have wide appeal. (May)

Tell me about your mom.


33 Responses

  1. She died in her car.

  2. Many congratulations Betsy!

  3. Good That’s wonderful! To have the words “beautifully written” in a review would be a dream come true. Congratulations!

  4. can’t wait to read it!

  5. Bravo! Fantastic! Can’t wait to read it.
    My mother died at 64 with nothing in our contentious relationship resolved but for the beautiful grandchild I gave her that she never even knew she wanted. I’m not sure anything ever would have been – she didn’t play bridge.

  6. Of course it’s good–it would be wrong if it weren’t.

  7. Congratulations on the rave review. I’m sure it’s the first of many. And what a stunning photo of your mother! My mom and I are close now. It took years and tears but now she’s my 85-year-old BFF.

  8. My mother was Shakespeare-lover, collector of antiques dirt cheap in the Adirondacks, lighter of Shabbos candles, lover of finest fabrics and beautiful things in general, non-complainer, silent sufferer, life engenderer. She was a decent human being. Cordial to all. We never had a rift. I miss her sapphire eyes. (She never played bridge.)

  9. She played bridge too across the alley with my father at Jeanne and Bob’s. They ate mixed nuts and drank Manhattans until mom would make her way over to the coffin sized stereo and sing standards so emotively that you believed every word. She became a sexy stranger then and I was terrified.


  10. My mother was an unsold artist and unpublished writer. She was always right even when she was wrong. Supportive and generous to a fault. I miss her terribly, even the part that pissed me off.

  11. Congratulations, Betsy, not so much on the review — you never know what reviewers are going to see when they look into a book, or what they’re not going to see — but on writing another book worth reading.

    As for my mom? If I were to start here and let it go, it would just go on and on. This much I can say: She did her best, and still does her best, in a world she has never really understood. She cannot fix what she did not know better than to break. There’s none of us who can fix what we did not know better than to break.

    If there is a mote in her eye, there is a beam in mine.

  12. Great review! Can’t wait to read it.

    My mom had her first novel published at 68. She’s still writing at 83.

  13. I think you know, Betsy 🙂
    I’m really looking forward to reading your memoir. What a great review!

  14. You are courageous, Betsy, and I salute you.

    My mom was kind and forgiving, happy, and with little ability to get or stay angry. She was from Wewahitchka, Florida, a town founded by Confederate veterans, but had no tolerance for bigotry of any sort. My father broke her heart, and she died young.

  15. Congrats!!

    My mother had a Jewish husband, it seemed, by chance. She played bridge when I was little and the dummy (am I remembering this correctly?) would put me to bed. She had short black curly hair and wore dark red lipstick. I miss her dearly.

  16. Congratulations, Betsy! That was a nice review of a book we’re all looking forward to.
    My mother, Maria, was shell shocked by her divorce when I was two and my sister was an infant; my father moved in with her best friend. My mother, sister and I lived in the basement of my grandparents house in Mount Vernon, NY for a year or so after the split and one of my earliest memories was when the boiler blew and the basement flooded during the night. Maria was floored by yet another setback and she resigned herself to fate, quietly helping my grandfather bail out the basement while my grandmother retrieved my sister from her crib before it floated away. I was happy in this low rent waterpark, a preschooler jumping from the bed to a floating hassock then to the couch, sprawling, tumbling and rolling. Maria looked at her son like she had never seen a child playing before and suddenly she started laughing, discovering a renewed sense of purpose and knowing she’d do anything for her children.

  17. Finally heeding my mother’s advice after many years,I started to play bridge and looked at what happened—-I met you!!! There was never a doubt in our minds about the book being well received. We are so thrilled for you, and Rozzy Baby looks gorgeous in her wedding finery.

  18. Congratulations on your great review!
    I can’t tell you about my mother. We warned me never to talk or write about her.

  19. What an awesome review! I’m SO HAPPY for you!! Can’t wait to read it.

  20. Heard Publisher’s Weekly is TOUGH, so woohoo! It is a wonderful review, and I think I’d print it and hang it in front so you can read it over and over.

    I got to Raleigh every Monday since Dad died (One yr anniversary this week, March 3rd) I’ve learned a lot about Mom since he passed on. She’s petrified of thunderstorms. She’s got Anxiety Disorder – in a bad way. She always talked about how independent she was, and now? She didn’t even know how to pump gas. (Dad always did it for her.) I had to show her how. She has a tendency to poor mouth it, then goes and spends $ on shoes.

    She is about your Mom’s age – a little younger. (80 in Aug) She gets on my last NERVE, but I think I love her more now – when I’m not pissed at her.

  21. Some of us haven’t been home for Thanksgiving in thirty-five years. You earn that sort of devotion from your offspring. You earn it.

  22. Betsy — this is great news! I can’t say I’m surprised by a great review of The Bridge Ladies. Your insight in Food and Loathing made me feel at once naked and understood.

    My mother who was once my best friend (and — in my heart — still is) now lives somewhere beneath the horrible mask of Alzheimers. She believes I’ve stolen her rings, her silver dollars, her home movies. She believes she hates me. People say, “It’s not really her. It’s the disease.” Yes. But it’s her face. Her voice. My Mom.

  23. Oh Betsy this is fantastic and I’m posting it on FB. I for one cannot wait to read it and have already reco’d it to my snooty book group.

  24. You failed to mention that it was a STARRED REVIEW! Congrats.

  25. Wow. That is fantastic. Congratulations!

    My mother; it’s too complicated.

  26. Very cool, Betsy! Seriously.
    My mom – she died when I was fairly young. We got along OK and I know she loved me, but she was kind of passive & checked-out. As an adult, I see that now. I actually kind of like being an orphan. The memories are decent and I feel free.

  27. Congratulations, Betsy!! That must feel incredible. Lovely photo of your mother; she definitely looks happy. My mother is a hard worker and a big fan of popular culture. She used to hold impromptu “pop quizzes” for my sister and I during movies or listening to the radio while we were growing up, to the tune of, “Where have you heard this song before, Missy Anne?” When Elton John’s “Pinball Wizard” came on the radio. Or, “Where have you seen him before, Melissa?” When one of her favorite actors, Patrick Swayze, was starring in something other than “Dirty Dancing.” She did not play bridge, but she loved the dice game “Yahtzee!” and board games like Monopoly, Life, and Scrabble.

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