Monday, March 14, 2011

The Four Ms. Bradwells

The Four Ms. Bradwells, by Meg Waite Clayton.

Have you ever seen the Michigan Law Quad? Think gothic stone cathedral but no altar, or a different kind of altar, something you can't quite see. Its centerpiece is the Reading Room, the scene of all our gum wrapper tossings. It's a cathedral of a room, with a vaulted fifty-foot ceiling and stained glass windows, a place at its finest on the few evenings a year when a renegade brown bat careered back and forth up in that high expanse of wood beam and blue and gold tile, winging gracefully around the wrought-iron chandeliers. In those moments, the unearthly quiet of that room exploded in a chorus of chatter that echoed from the hard stone walls, like monks lifted from the vows of silence by an unexpected creature of God. The good Lord knows there was nothing to do then but open the doors and hope the poor thing found its way out.

I have read "The Wednesday Sisters" by Meg Waite Clayton and loved it, so I was excited to hear she had a new book coming out, and especially excited when I started reading it and realized parts of it were set at Michigan, of which she (and I) is an alum. The story tells of the four "Ms. Bradwells," four best friends who meet at Michigan Law, and how one of them is up for a Supreme Court seat, and because of that her (and their) past is being investigated. An incident from when they were law students has been discovered, and the four of them retreat to a small island that one of them has a house on, to get away from the press and all the hubbub.

I liked that the story was told from the perspective of all four of the women (each one would get their own chapters at some point) and the way it jumped from past to present. Each of the women have their own past and secrets, which intersect with the others, no more so than the one they all share, which might ruin the Supreme Court nomination for their friend. Clayton's descriptions of Ann Arbor and the Law Quad are dead on, and it was nice to read a story partially set in Ann Arbor, or at least one in which Ann Arbor played such a big part in the characters' lives.

3.5 stars out of 5.

Disclosure: I was provided an ARC of this novel to review. The Four Ms. Bradwells will be in bookstores on March 22nd.


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