In one life-altering law school class, four women of different backgrounds and beliefs were christened Bradwells, and afterwards became friends for years. Though life has taken each of them down different paths, of success and of failure, Mia, Betts, Laney, and Ginger have remained loyal to one another and to their friendship since that day. Now, with Betts about to be appointed to the Supreme Court, investigators have dug up the memories of one summer where a man committed suicide. All four women flee from the truth and end up on the island where it happened, where Ginger’s family lived in the summers, to try and face the facts of their past and work out how to grow from here as women and as friends.
The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton was released to favorable reviews nearly everywhere, so even though I hadn’t managed to read that one yet, I still jumped to get my hands on The Four Ms. Bradwells. I wasn’t quite sure what I expected from it when I started, but what I got was a tale about four strong women who have to face demons from their past – demons that many women face in their own private lives without the spotlight placed on these four. As such, it was a compelling and meaningful read with a lot of relevance for women’s lives.
The story is told mainly through flashbacks. All of the friends are together on the island trying to face what they’ve kept from the world for so long. As they experience the familiar scenery, they are reminded of the past and forced to reflect upon their lives. I liked how the novel touched deeply on the nature of female friendships, relationships, and family, how the women can love one another yet cause each other to suffer. We’re only given the past through these flashbacks, so at the beginning I had no idea what had happened. The actual events weren’t earth-shattering but were certainly moving and I felt for these characters and the pain they’d endured over the years.
There were things I didn’t like about the book as well, unfortunately. For one thing, I found it really hard to distinguish the women’s separate voices. I never take note of chapter headings and I more than once experienced the phenomenon of confusion as it turned out the perspective had switched and I hadn’t noticed. Ginger’s poetry and Laney’s Latin helped with this some but also got old as the novel wore on. I’d find someone who quoted Latin phrases or any poetry endlessly to be annoying in real life, too, so no surprise that happened here. And, finally, I understood that the said event was a terrible event for these women and their families, but I didn’t really see it as ‘dirt’ that would interest anyone about Betts’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Is it really that bad if you’re simply at a weekend party where a suicide happens? I know I wouldn’t have thought anything of it.
Overall, though, I did enjoy The Four Ms. Bradwells and it’s certainly a worthy read for other women. I also still intend to read The Wednesday Sisters as I have for at least a year now – soon I hope!
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