A straightforward study of the intricate ties between daughters and their aging mothers. Journalist and biographer Beard (Growing Up Republican: Christy Whitman, the Politics of Character, 1996) presents detailed case studies of the varied bonds between older mothers and their mostly middle-aged daughters at this most crucial and often demanding stage in their relationship. Covered are such issues as living arrangements, financial difficulties, long-distance relationships, severe illness, and death. While many daughters interviewed are willing to uproot their lives to be closer to their aging mothers and have grown more respectful of them as they—ve aged, others withdraw resentfully and distance themselves further. What makes the relationship between mothers and daughters particularly complex these days, contends Beard, is “the changes in the culture that our generation has made.” While women just one generation earlier were taught that their main purpose was to marry well and serve as an emotional buttress to their husbands, today’s women are almost as likely to be divorced and financially independent. Contemporary women are generally far more educated, driving another wedge between the generations. In examining failed relationships between mothers and daughters, the most common form of “bad mothering” that emerges is “verbal abuse, which usually takes the form of relentless criticism.” When an adult daughter is constantly disparaged by her mother, it’s possible for her to break the abusive cycle, insists Beard, either by caring for her aging mother or by becoming a supportive mother herself. In exceptional cases, all ties have to be severed. A mother’s aging “provides a chance for growth and a uniquely intense intimacy.” Particularly strong, in fact, are the ties between black mothers and their daughters, with almost twice as many blacks as whites over 65 living in multigenerational homes. Interesting and informative, this offers insights into an intricately complex emotional sphere.