For more than forty years, the mantra of the eight women in the Bridge Club has been "one for all and all for one." Beginning their monthly soiree in the psychedelic Sixties, unpredicted twists of fate weave through the good times and strong friendship they share as the years pass. The constant from one decade to the next is loyal and non—judgment support, even when agreeing to disagree is the final solution. From the echilarating cultural changes of their early times together through the "zoomer" years, their connection never falters.
As they celebrate turning sixty (give or take a year) at a group birthday weekend, each woman recalls a challenging time in her life when the Bridge Club came to the rescue. Ater tossing around ideas mixed with a generous helping of common sense and a large dose of laughter they decide to refer to that time as their "SOS". Eight chapters document each one's story.
Everything is out into perspective and the strength of their friendship is truly tested when one of these women faces a life—altering decision. Her choice profoundly affects all members of the group, pushing the limits of their beliefs and values. The unique alliance they share is confronted with a crisis none of them might have imagined.
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About the Author
The Bridge Club is an award-winning bestseller in Women's Fiction. Thanks to tremendous reader response, The Promise of Provence became Book #1 in the Love In Provence series. Promises To Keep ~ Book #2 was released in Summer 2014. Book #3, I Promise You This, will be released in February 2016. The series explores a mid-life coming of age and allows readers to lose themselves in the beauty of the south of France without leaving home. Patricia was invited to join the Lake Union imprint (Women's Fiction) of Amazon Publishing in January 2015.
Celebrating the rewarding friendships and bonds women share, her stories examine the challenges life often throws in our paths. Location features prominently in all of her novels.
Read an Excerpt
The Bridge Club
By Patricia Sands
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Patricia Sands
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Feast or friggin' famine."
That's how the locals referred to the random pattern of snow accumulation in the popular Georgian Bay ski area, two hours north of Toronto. Global warming had not spoiled their hopes this season for a white winter. In fact, records were being set. A feast it definitely was.
There's a certain serenity artfully forged by a fresh blanket of snow. Flaws of nature, and of man, are fleetingly hidden, and to some people a sense of peace prevails. To others, it's all about the shovel or the drive.
As snowfalls go, this one was perfect, with the big, soft flakes true fans of winter love. Intricately and delicately fashioned, some fell in clumps, becoming fluffy, floating puffs as they swirled and drifted through the dusk, adding to the already whitened landscape.
Peering through her reflection in a lightly frosted window, Pam's eyes followed random flakes as she desperately tried to focus on something other than the reality the weekend would bring. Being the daydreamer of the group, she surely could distract herself. So she thought.
With considerable effort, she willed the beauty of the winter scene to nudge aside the anxiety crowding her mind. Her imagination transported her inside one of those glass balls her dear godmother kept on a shelf in her Victorian china cabinet so long ago. "Back in the day," as the kids say now. Snow globes. The kind with the ceramic winter setting that you turned upside down and right side up again to start the tiny white particles twirling around. How many hours of her young life had she spent mesmerized by them?
"Get a grip," she pleaded silently, "my brain feels like a snow globe right now with all my thoughts swirling about."
Some of those globes could be wound up to play music, she recalled. Forcing herself to be drawn once more into the hypnotic motion of the storm, she became faintly aware of tinkling winter melodies from somewhere in the vast archives of her treasured memories. Warm recollections enveloped her of family, friends, laughter ...
It was laughter now that pulled her back into the present. Low, amused chuckles gave way to uncontrolled bellows and hoots. Rich sounds of great good humor and easy conversation that signal close friendships and not simply cocktail party small talk.
"More wine, anyone?"
The clinking of bottle meeting glass mixed with the laughter and chatter.
"We'll have more dip back here, and pass the pâté while you're at it, please!"
"Mmm-artichokes and Asiago. We've come a long way from the days of soup mix and sour cream."
"Hey, I still like those old dips!"
"Well, these hors d'oeuvres are to die for, but that's nothing new!"
"I could live on Antoine's pâté. Apply it directly to my hips, though!"
A sudden warning interrupted the festivities. "Whoops! Hold on ladies, and cover your drinks! We're heading into a whiteout!"
The conversation stilled momentarily. Seatbelts were double-checked and bodies swerved as Bonnie over-steered to correct the trajectory of the huge Suburban. This was one of the perils, after all, of a mobile cocktail party in the midst of a winter storm.
Marti squeezed her eyes closed and gritted her teeth. She hated it when this happened even though she knew these nasty combinations of wind and snow were all too common.
Danielle quickly crossed herself and murmured a hasty Hail Mary, her normal reaction in such a situation. She was the only one in the group who would actually describe herself as deeply religious and considered it her responsibility to make certain any prayers or exhortations to the Almighty covered all these special friends. She knew she would need her faith more than ever this weekend.
Devout as she was, Danielle could also out-swear anyone in the group and now, having finished her Hail Mary, she let fly a few choice words. Most of her profanities were in French, which sounded more impressive than the more commonplace English swearwords. Besides that, in her rapidly spoken French anything she expressed was basically untranslatable, so she could say whatever she wanted. She was not a potty mouth, but rather an utterer of good solid curses when the moment called for one. If you go to confession regularly you receive some special dispensation for swearing, she claimed.
Everyone else waited calmly, at least on the surface, for the moment of uncertainty to pass, as it always did. These women had come to know that those "hold your breath and hope for the best" moments in life-no matter how long they seemed-eventually did pass.
"No problem," Bonnie reassured them. "It was a small one! Holy crapoli, I'll be more than happy to reach the farm. I can't recall driving up in such a heavy snowfall for years."
"Hooray for skid school training, Bo! Stellar driving job, as usual!" praised Jane as she saluted with her glass before taking a long sip, almost draining it. The need for her calming drink had nothing to do with the driving conditions.
"Easy for you to say, sitting back enjoying your wine and relaxing. Being the designated driver is not a simple task, you know, ladies, particularly when you're chauffeuring a traveling party without a beverage yourself!"
"But Bo, you don't drink anyway," Cass reminded her, "so what are you going on about?"
"Uh ... I was looking for a little sympathy, that's all. Actually a soda water would go down very well right now, with a twist of lemon."
Reaching back for the cooler, happy to have any minor task that would bring relief from her worries, Lynn quickly filled the order and passed it up to Bonnie.
"Thanks, that hits the spot!" Bo suppressed the urge to admit it wasn't as effective as a vodka martini. For the past twenty-six years she had resisted every temptation to have alcohol touch her lips. Anticipating the challenge of this weekend might be the acid test.
"Twenty minutes to go and right on schedule. Got the stew ready to throw in the oven, Dee?"
Dee laughed, hoping it didn't sound forced. "I'd be crazy not to with you foodies!"
"Got that right!" The others chorused positive responses that were almost too enthusiastic.
Cass leaned over to turn up the radio as they sang along to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Of course they knew all the words.
Nothing seemed amiss, in spite of what they all knew was going down in the next forty-eight hours.
Pam quietly considered the number of years these eight friends had repeated the scenario. This was the Bridge Club's annual cocktail party on wheels in the twelve-passenger Suburban from Bonnie's farm, driving north for their annual ski weekend.
They had it down to a fine art after forty years: one bottle of red, one bottle of white. That was the limit for the trip. The wineglasses were a necessary but not particularly desirable plastic. If they were going to break the law by having wine in their moving vehicle, they at least tried to be somewhat responsible about it.
Bonnie was a non-drinker, or as she would quickly correct you, a recovering alcoholic, even after two and a half decades. Outgoing and undeniably the loudest member of the Bridge Club, she had claimed permanent ownership of the designated driver title. She was also the most experienced at handling the lumbering Suburban, for which the others were immensely thankful. Particularly Marti, who almost needed sedation to travel the winter roads and who drank no wine en route. Nevertheless, along with all the others, she had rarely missed one of these road trips.
The Bridge Club: eight women, just over their sixty-year speed bump. They were never anything remotely resembling Desperate Housewives or Ya-Ya candidates but simply great friends since their footloose days of finding the way through their early twenties.
During those heady days of the mid to late 1960s they had, in various combinations, lived, worked, studied, traveled, and certainly partied together. Not only at home but also, to their great surprise, overseas. Friendships had been formed at school, parties, and work. A couple of them had known each other from childhood. Out of a very large circle, these eight women had connected during the preliminaries of getting to know each other and continued to build on that.
Coming from small towns in Ontario, trips to Montreal or across the U.S. border to Buffalo were major excursions when they were growing up. As young adults, it had been a thrill to join the masses tasting the new freedom ushered in by the peace/love, or sex/drugs, or anything else you can think of and rock 'n roll of the psychedelic 60s.
Hordes of liberated twenty-somethings, including most of these eight young women, invaded Europe that decade, backpacking and hitchhiking, renting "wrecks," riding the rails with Eurail passes, or getting around by whatever means their budgets would accommodate.
The Age of Aquarius had spawned a generation eager to explore the planet. The blossoming of affordable air travel opened the doors. Europe on $5 a Day was the bible, and wandering that part of the world was, for the most part, a safe, exciting adventure.
In the late 60s, they were lured back to the opportunities and energy of the emerging urban Toronto scene, their explorations completed for the time being. The young women began to settle into their lives with more structure and growing responsibilities. Most assuredly though, this by no means eliminated the good times. They did know how to party.
Quickly reconnecting through lunches, dinners, parties, and spontaneous bridge games, it was a no-brainer to get organized with a monthly commitment to meet at each other's homes and maintain their valued friendships. From early on, their ability to share the best of what women offer each other had been obvious and was too good to let slip away.
Apart from this, that classic card game of skill and chance was the common denominator that brought them together. Each had been introduced to the challenging but enjoyable pastime of bridge by the time they were in their late teens or early twenties.
Taking turns hosting, the young friends gathered on the first Tuesday of every month with no guest, no spouse, and no "outsider" invited. Eight was the number needed for two tables of bridge. It made perfect sense, really, even though they all had friends who at one time or another suggested they would be happy to join in. The Bridge Club, as they had christened themselves with a collective guffaw, knew only too well that anyone who had not been with them from the beginning and shared in their experiences would be bored stiff listening to them reminisce ad nauseum.
Typical of the time, they were a homogeneous collection from white middle-class families. The opportunities for cultural diversity in Canada in the 1960s were not what they were even twenty years later. In fact, as crazy as it sounds today, having one Roman Catholic and another Jewish member in the group was fairly progressive for those days.
At first the primary object, they all agreed, was to play bridge. More dilettantes than serious competitors in those early days, they soon found it equally important to simply enjoy each other's company and get caught up on the latest. The chatter was effortless and continuous: the joys, the pains, the hopes, the secrets, the gossip, the mundane, and the adventure. Life, played out by each one in her own way. Separate but, at the same time, shared intimately with each other.
They moved easily within their individual spheres, sometimes overlapping with each other but more often not, and came together each month to compare notes, laugh, cry, vent, or simply relax.
Their dedication to the addictive card game had followed an interesting, arguably predictable progression when they looked back on it:
Bridge was played with relish for the first couple of years, until the cocktail hour stretched on in a haze of cigarette smoke and sometimes completely precluded dinner. Sleepovers were not uncommon. Love affairs, marital issues, and the shift from acting like kids to having them were their headlines for this decade. The background music: the Beatles, the Stones, anything Motown, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, the Guess Who, Queen, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan.
Families began to flourish in their own distinct combinations, or not. Careers were becoming established or were struggling. Important choices were presenting themselves for endless discussions, and the cards were set aside-except, that is, in times of crisis. When the talk got too intense, without fail, a few hands of bridge would be the calming factor. The background music: the Beatles, the Stones, anything Motown, ABBA, Burton Cummings, Miles Davis, Sinatra, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Leonard Cohen.
For the most part they liked who they were. They recognized the strengths they had developed and were up front about what still needed work. Family dynamics were shifting and mid-life issues were challenging as they steered each other through the vagaries of menopause. Lingering over cheap but decent wine and appetizing meals perfected through the years, it was during this time that nostalgic mutterings about serious bridge often surfaced. The cards were on the table with greater regularity. The background music: the Beatles, the Stones, anything Motown, Oscar Peterson, Shania Twain, Lloyd-Weber soundtracks, Eurythmics, the Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Elton John.
The fourth decade brought much less alcoholic consumption (but not abstinence, let me assure you), healthier food choices (but always dessert), one lone smoker (unless there was excessive alcohol), and earlier nights for those whose schedules now included caring for aging parents. Life's impending chapter of retirement signaled new opportunities, more eagerly anticipated by some than others. The cards were back on in a serious way. The background music: the Beatles, the Stones, anything Motown, classic jazz, U2, Diana Krall, Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Classical 96.3 FM, Zoomer Radio AM740.
The constant from one decade to the next was the endless conversation and camaraderie that carried them together through the passages of their lives. All to the beat of the background music.
There was never a shortage of opinions. At times there was dissention-particularly when Canadian politics was the topic. Cass's steadfast commitment to the New Democratic Party's social tenets clashing with Bonnie's true-Tory-blue Conservative Party ideals provided good entertainment.
The lively exchanges were often passionate, but whether the issue was negative or positive, nothing changed the deep love of their country and the life it offered each person. Lucky them, they all agreed, to live in the true north strong and free. Although getting away for part of the winter wasn't a bad idea!
In the fourth decade of the Bridge Club, the events of 9/11 had introduced a sad and unfortunate new perspective to the world. These women could remember, as teenagers, the fears created by the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. It was their first experience feeling threatened in their country, which always seemed safe and removed from any such danger. The Cold War, with its talk of bomb shelters, brought the realization that North America was vulnerable to nuclear attack. This dark side of the 1960s, with the assassinations of the two Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the unpopular war in Vietnam, had awakened political awareness and a desire for activism to a greater extent than generations before.
After 2001, those early, uneasy fears resurfaced with the pervasive lingering threat left by the new type of terrorism and the atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia it spawned.
Who didn't feel that the world seemed to stop spinning on its normal axis? Combined with dire warnings of climate change and the reckless abuse of our planet-not to mention the standard violence making daily headlines-there was much to lie awake worrying about. There was a sense that life for their children and grandchildren faced the possibility of unimagined change and challenge.
Excerpted from The Bridge Club by Patricia Sands Copyright © 2010 by Patricia Sands. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By the time I finished this book I felt as though I had made eight new friends. Each "SOS" experienced by these women was something that either I had personally experienced or someone I know has gone through. All sides of each issue were examined in a humorous and thought-provoking way. The final chapter was especially emotional. This book would be a great pick for a book club because it's guaranteed to start some lively discussions as readers debate which characters they most relate to and which sides of the various issues they support. Can't wait for you next one, Ms. Sands!
A gem! You do not want to put it down; full of beautiful moments of deepest human feelings; friendship, love and trust. The author should be applauded for her search of the depth in human interactions, especially amongst friends. The book ends in such a way that the reader is left with one task: Search your soul!
Don't be fooled by the title. I know nothing about bridge other than it's hard and wondered if I'd be interested in a novel with a title about a pastime I have no interest in. Thank goodness I listened to my friend because it has little to do with bridge. If you've ever wondered what it's like to really have true friends who are there for you thru thick and thin, who make you laugh and at the same time infuriate you yet who always have your back, then this is the book for you. If you want to exhale squeals of laughter, or silently sob at heart wrenching challenges, then this is the book for you. If you want to be transported into the fascinating lives of characters who you now desperately want to meet, then this is the book for you. Good books stimulate, inspire and provoke a plethora of emotions. The Bridge Club does that in spades. So many emotions were aroused as I read it...joy, sadness, curiousity, doubt, anger, jealousy, empathy..I could go on but I won't as I don't want to give it all away. All I can say is, buy it, read it, and pass it on to your friends, your sisters, your daughters for you will be moved to recreate this most enriching circle of friendship.
This is a truly amazing story about friendship, love and loyalty. It spans 40 plus years in the lives of 8 friends in a bridge club. 8 chapters are dedicated to one of each of these friends going through a crisis and how the bridge club friends helped get them through. The very last chapter will leave you crying and wondering what friend are they talking about who is dealing with a crisis beyond words. I highly recommend this book to all. It is flawlessly written and the characters are so well developed, you will feel that you know them all personally. This is a must read for everyone. Highly, highly recommend this one! Don't miss out on this one!
Enjoyable read with an ending that makes you stop and think.
Life is what you make it and who you know it has been said. Well this group of ladies have a life! I read this book with a small group of my friends and it nevr ran out of topics for us to talk about. By the end of the book it felt like the characters became our friends. The author does a wonderful job allowing you in the lives of this group of friends and allowing you to really get to know them on an intimate level. The book covers a span of 40 years and almost every topic under the sun. I loved how it made me think, feel , and hope to be sharing my life with a group of friends as great as these ladies only time really can tell you who your real friends are. I really enjoyed the book and think it is a wonderful read for a book club, small group of friends or a vacation especially.
This is a lovely story. The camaraderie and mutual support of the characters is very authentic. It never felt forced or fake. Each of the women had their unique personalities that stayed consistent throughout. In spite of this, I did not really enjoy this book. I struggled to discover why this was and identified a couple of reasons. They are purely mechanical but they mattered to me. First was the organization of the book. It felt like a group of disjointed stories containing the same set of characters. It just did not flow well for me. The other reason was the length of the chapters. I really have a hard time with chapters that are 30 to 40 pages long. I honestly thought that each of the chapters could have been split into several, more manageable, chapters. My personal experience is unique and does not stop me from recommending this book to others. It has a wonderful message and addresses issues that are relevant.
The Bridge Club, a novel by Patricia Sands, is a Finalist in the General Fiction category for ForeWord Reviews 2010 Book Of The Year and I can easily see why. The premise of this novel is: Eight women. Four decades of friendship. One unimaginable request. According to the author, the novel is based loosely on the author’s own bridge club, and the story weaves the reader through a maze of life's inevitable scenarios. Any woman who has a lifelong, well connected friendship will love this book. The book introduces you to eight different women and takes you through the points in their life when they most needed the friendship of the bridge club. Each character has their own chapter to explain what they were going through and how they felt at that time. The first and last chapters explain to you why we're revisiting the women of the club. The last chapters threw me for a curve-ball. I couldn't figure out which of the eight women it was talking about, who was going through the problem that had led them where they were to suffer through what could be the hardest thing a friend could suffer through. I think the author did this to show us, the readers, that it can happen to anyone, you won't know who. This book was very well written. It was long enough (at approx 400pgs) for you to connect with and know each character. This is a thought provoking book that anyone who has a deep friendship will adore. Good luck to the author, Patricia Sands! I was not paid for this review. All the opinions expressed here are my own and were in no way swayed. Thank you for taking the time to read! -Melissa
The Bridge Club by Patricia Sands is a story about eight 60 something Women set over forty years. Brought together with their passion of Bridge and so the Club is established. Fate takes hold of each of the 8 ladies in different ways and their friendship is tested every time. They remain loyal, don't judge each other and offer the ultimate support when needed. The books starts at the end. You get a taste of what is to come and the ultimate test of friendship is brought to them. Eight chapters are dedicated in turn to each one of the 8 ladies where you are transported to their most important time in their life and they remember the feelings and support they gave each other. Their "one for all and all for one " mantra uniting them in their individual struggles. Drinks, laughter and tears will help them work through their beliefs and values. I wondered when I got this book if I would be able to connect with a group of ladies with a love of Bridge, not being able to play etc! Like it says on the front of the cover, ..it was never just about the cards. This book is so much more than a group playing bridge. This is a story of hope and sorrow. Friendships tested but always the first place each lady comes when in times of trouble/need or reassurance. Beautifully written, Patricia introduces you to each Character dedicating a chapter to each one but still showing the closeness of the friendships through out. This book will have you laughing with them but also reaching for a tissue and the struggles they all endure. To me the ending was perfect and I totaly understood the direction that Patricia took and why. Loved the Bridge card display at the end of each chapter with a heading so fitting to what you have just read, lovely touch. A thought provoking read for anyone, whatever age, who has close friendships that mean the world to them.
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (3/11) At the first glance "The Bridge Club" with its title and the retro-looking pink and black cover did not look too promising. I don't play or understand bridge, and pink has never been my favorite color. But I am so glad I picked this one up! My first clue should have been the little note on the cover itself, saying, "..... it was never just about the cards." And while bridge runs throughout the book, it certainly is not the most important part of the story. Where should I start, without giving away too much of the story? Maybe with a quick quote from the book itself... "The Bridge Club: eight women, just over their sixty-year speed bump. They were never anything remotely resembling Desperate Housewives or Ya-Ya candidates but simply great friends since their footloose days of finding the way through their early twenties. During those heady days of the mid to late 1960s they had, in various combinations, lived, worked, studied, traveled, and certainly partied together." Here you have it, the framework of an amazing story of enduring friendship of the best kind, one that stands the test of time and is always supportive, even when things get really bad and some tough love is the only possible solution. Ms. Sands wrote a convincing and heart-warming story of a diverse group of women who found out that the one true constant in their lives was this group of friends, always there to support, to advise, to console or prod them along, no matter what life threw their way. There to party, there to help, there to commiserate, there to admonish - no situation too small or too big, too ugly or too unusual for them to handle. Eight separate stories, one for each of the members of the club, dealing with a variety of truly life-changing, very realistic situations of different kinds, set the stage for the final, ninth story. This is the one that will test all of their beliefs again, and since I truly do not want to even hint at the ending, let me simply say that I love the unconventional way Ms. Sands dealt with the identity of the heroine of this last story. I absolutely loved "The Bridge Club..." It made me enormously grateful for the friends that I have, and for the things I've experienced and places I've been to. It made me realize again how important female friendships are for us women, and how nothing else can really take their place. Great writing, great story and for certain one you'll want to share with your own friends!
The Bridge Club is not a mere piece of fiction but a great piece of literature. What a marvelous journey these women have been on and how fortunate to find such loving and caring companions to share the past forty years. I will wait in great anticipation for Ms Sands next book. Many Plants.