Monday, April 18, 2011

Julie's Review: The Four Ms. Bradwells

The Four Ms. Bradwells: A NovelSummary: Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters (2009), has created another tale about a group of female friends that tells the stories of many women. Mia, Lainey, Betts, and Ginger become best friends at law school in 1979, at the cusp of the feminist movement. Now Betts is navigating a Senate hearing to confirm her Supreme Court appointment, and she and her friends have reunited. When a long-buried, dark story from their shared history is dug up, the four escape the media at Ginger's family's home on a remote island, which is also the scene of the controversial event. There the women reflect on their past, their relationships with each other and their mothers, and how societal norms led them to hide shocking sexual abuse. Clayton unfolds the story through flashbacks and present-day narration in each woman's voice.

Review: I had high hopes for The Four Ms. Bradwells. I adore books about female friendships and this one focused on 4 friends who had been friends for over 40 years and are in their mid 50s dealing with different crises.

We are introduced to Mia, Betts, Ginger and Laney by alternating voices. At first I had a hard time "listening" to their voices, I didn't think they were that distinct. As I got more into the novel though I could start to tell a difference even without reading their names at the top of each chapter. Maybe that was the point at first that you as a reader couldn't tell them apart to get the full understanding of what happened to them.

The book is pretty heavy handed with the feminist movement throughout the last 40 years. It deals with some pretty tough issues in the book and how certain circumstances can change your path in life. How we let our experiences shape us; the good and the bad. How choices are sometimes given and taken from us.

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding what exactly happened 40 years ago and who it happened to but that is revealed slowly through the book.

What I never got it why they never really talked about the incident among themselves. They could have been each others biggest support system and yet they skated around the issue for the entire length of their friendship. How do you remain friends with people who you never revealed your entire self to?

I guess this is the part that I struggled with throughout the book; how were these women still friends after all these years? They only thing they seemed to have in common was this incident and their years together at law school. Was it just this incident that kept them tied? If so, what will keep them together after it's revealed? Will they be free to let each other go or will it be the thing that keeps them together still?

In the end, I probably didn't love the book as much as I thought I would but I would definitely still read Meg Waite Clayton. She is a powerful storyteller.

Final Take: 3.5/5



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