An otherwise mundane Senate confirmation hearing for a Supreme Court nominee is drawing to a close on a fall Friday afternoon when a senator (known commonly as Milwaukee’s Finest) “inquires” into the nominee’s knowledge of a death many years ago at a home where the candidate was then a guest. Thus begins The Four Ms. Bradwells, a novel by Meg Waite Clayton (The Wednesday Sisters). It is the story of four diverse women who meet at Michigan Law (one of the law schools of choice in the ’80s), become friends for life and earn nicknames, each a “Ms. Bradwell”. Note to the reader: The original Ms. Bradwell was in fact Mrs. Bradwell, the plaintiff in Bradwell v. Illinois, in which Mrs. Bradwell was denied admission to law school by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1873.
The Ms. Bradwells are:
Mia Porter: the savant – lawyer and award winning, but currently unemployed, journalist and photographer.
Betts Zhukovski: the funny one – law professor and Supreme Court nominee.
Laney Weils Robeson: the good girl – lawyer and candidate for the Georgia state senate.
Ginger Conrad Hudson: the rebel – a one time attorney/ current stay-at-home mom.
After the “inquiry” by Milwaukee’s Finest and a “I have nothing to add to the public record” response, the four Ms. Bradwells’ escape the hearing room and the press, retreating to Ginger’s family’s summer home on Cooks Island in the Chesapeake Bay, ironically the scene of that long ago death in question. There, the Ms. Bradwells relive their law school days and, in particular, that fateful spring break of their third year of law school when the death occurred. The skeletons come out and truths are revealed over that long weekend.
On the whole, this is a good book and a great read. The premise is fabulous and the plot well developed, though a bit over the top at times. The only real negative, was the boat ride that took up 35 of the first 50 pages – that could have been done in 5 pages and saved the reader tremendous tedium.
One huge highlight – the alumni notes scattered throughout the story – they were hilarious: “Law Quadrangle Notes: Summer 1987 – Helen (“Laney”) Weils (JD ’82) married William Robeson on July 3 in Atlanta, Georgia. The bride will keep her name and, after considerable negotiation, the groom will, too.”
Goldberg McDuffie Communications provided a review copy of this book for this post. All opinions are my own.
What are you reading and where are you going?