Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton

The Four Ms. Bradwells: A NovelThe Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: March 22, 2011
Hardcover, 336 pages 
 ISBN: 978-0345517081

My Review:
Why I read this: I love secrets and reunion-type novels so I jumped when offered a spot on the TLC Book Tour.

My thoughts:  Wow - if you like novels revolving around secrets then you will like this one.

I really enjoyed The Four Ms. Bradwells.  I think Ms. Clayton did a marvelous job wrapping the secrets into layers of Betts, Laney, Mia and Ginger's lives together and when they were apart.  The book centers around the lives of the girls starting when they met the first day of law school and were grouped together as the Ms. Bradwells by one of their professors.  What you get in this book is the slow unraveling of these four ladies lives as they meet up before Betts' hopeful Supreme Court nomination.  But things go awry for them when an old secret is uncovered.

What I really liked was how real it all seems.  When you are a group of friends, there are secrets you keep together, but there are also secrets you keep to yourself.  That is what made this real to me, the fact that there were aspects of the women's lives that they did not share, but somehow need to get out on this weekend escape they take to Ginger's parents' summer home on the Chesapeake Bay.

I also like that not one of the women has a perfect life, yes it might look like it on the outside, but truthfully there is something more they yearn for, each one of them.  I think Ms. Clayton does a beautiful job developing the characters and driving the plot so the reader is dying to know more about each of the characters and ultimately about the big secret that they have kept.  I honestly didn't think about it until reading this book which I thought was just a general fiction book, but it contains quite a bit of suspense as well.  Not the suspense of true thriller books, but that wonderfully paced suspense of a character-driven novel.  Ms. Clayton does a great job moving the plot and developing the characters so I was thoroughly immersed in the setting and in the lives of Betts, Laney, Mia and Ginger.

My one problem with the book - it is all pretty much in first person and jumps around through the characters.  It took me about one-third of the book to figure out who was speaking in each chapter.  That's when each character gained their voice and I somewhat understood the introductory words at the beginning of the chapters.  This is probably my fault, but when a book is told in first person through a series of characters I am more use to each chapter or section just being titled that characters name so I understand from the beginning who is speaking.  Just know this takes a little away from the book, but I still think it is a very worthwhile read.  And who knows, another reader may pick up on all of this a lot easier than I did.

So if you enjoy reunion/secrets/friends-novels then this is one for you to try.  I like Ms. Clayton's voice and she will be on my to-read pile in the future.  I love finding a new author that speaks to me so well and makes me anxious for their next book.  If you enjoy books by Lisa Scottoline, Kristin Hannah and other authors who write character-driven suspense-type novels then give Meg Waite Clayton a try and let me know what you think.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

About the Book:

Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, have reunited for a long weekend as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her appointment to the Supreme Court. Nicknamed “the Ms. Bradwells” during their first class at the University of Michigan Law School in 1979—when only three women had ever served full Senate terms and none had been appointed to the Court—the four have supported one another through life’s challenges: marriages and divorces, births and deaths, career setbacks and triumphs large and small. Betts was, and still is, the Funny One. Ginger, the Rebel. Laney, the Good Girl. And Mia, the Savant.
But when the Senate hearings uncover a deeply buried skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, the Ms. Bradwells retreat to a summer house on the Chesapeake Bay, where they find themselves reliving a much darker period in their past—one that stirs up secrets they’ve kept for, and from, one another, and could change their lives forever.

About the Author: 

Meg Waite Clayton is the author of The Wednesday Sisters and The Language of Light, a finalist for the Bellwether Prize. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, she lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband and their two sons.

FTC Information: I received this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours for a honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.


Anonymous said...

I like that you mention that none of the women have perfect lives even though it may seem like it from the outside.

This sounds like a great book to read with your best friends. Thanks for being on the tour.

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