BONUS: This edition contains a The Four Ms. Bradwells discussion guide and excerpts from Meg Waite Clayton's The Wednesday Sisters, The Language of Light, and The Wednesday Daughters.
Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger have reunited to celebrate Betts’s appointment to the Supreme Court. But when Senate hearings uncover a deeply buried skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, they 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.
Four friends confront a secret from their past in Clayton's disjointed follow-up to The Wednesday Sisters. Thirty years ago, Laney, Mia, Betts, and Ginger were roommates and best friends in law school. Collectively nicknamed the Ms. Bradwells by a professor (after a woman who fought to be admitted to the bar in 1873), their relationship has weathered marriage, divorce, children, and death, but when Betts's Supreme Court nomination is threatened by questions about the death of a young man at a party they attended decades ago, the women retreat to the scene of the crime Ginger's mother's summer house to untangle the past. But this clunky novel is less about that mystery its poky reveal stretches the limits of human patience and more about the women's histories and careers, and the complexities of their friendships and families. Clayton finds some traction in discussing what it means to be a woman in both public and private life, but lack of individuated voices (poetry-quoting Ginger is the only unique one among the four) and unruly swerves between past and present make following the story more work than it should be.
Good book. Strong characters. enjoyable read until the end. Ending was a bit of a let down as the author takes an unrealistic turn.
Overall a good read.
In Meg Waite Clayton's latest, we are again introduced to a group of friends, but instead of watching their friendship grow like we did in The Wednesday Sisters, we find ourselves in the midst of a friendship already decades in the making. Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger have been friends since their days in law school, when they were all dubbed "the Ms. Bradwells" by their professor in their very first class at the University of Michigan Law School. We first meet the Four Ms. Bradwells during Senate hearings to appoint Betts to the Supreme Court, except a skeleton in their closet is uncovered from early on in their friendship that may hinder Betts' appointment. This skeleton also raises questions about their friendship and who has kept secrets from who over the years.
Clayton also raises other issues in her book, including those of women's rights, but I'll leave the main issue that she brings to her story a secret, because it is this issue that ties everything together in the book, and I don't want to give it away. Needless to say, the secret has to do with a death, and this is the crux of the skeleton in the friends' closet that they need to overcome. The secret is brought up in the very first chapter so you're not kept waiting, and it's presented in a completely intriguing and compelling manner, making you want to find out what happened.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed most about The Wednesday Sisters that is carried over into The Four Ms. Bradwellsis that I felt like I had gotten to know the friends by the end of the book, that they were my friends too. Clayton has a knack for making her characters completely believable and tangible, with all the quirks and imperfections that would make them real people. They have real faults, real problems, aren't perfect, and in this imperfection, she has created honest and true characters.
Do yourself a favor and pick up The Four Ms. Bradwells. It's a refreshing read for early summer and while it does deal with some heavy subjects, it does so in a manner that is easy to read and relatable to the characters. And while you're at it, if you haven't read The Wednesday Sisters, pick that up at the same time. Both books are excellent stories on the power of friendship and what that power can help friends overcome.