I've already told all of you that I met Meg Waite Clayton at the Kepler's event when the two Random House reps gave their holiday gift-buying book recommendations. After talking with Meg, I vowed to myself to buy and read one of her books. Well, the opportunity arose pretty quickly. The Saturday after the Wednesday Kepler's event, "M" had an afternoon open-house. The purpose was several-fold. First, it was a holiday get-together. Second, it was a going-away party for the outgoing owner, Ed, who recently sold his store. Third, it was an opportunity to meet the new owner, Steve.
What I didn't realize was that there would be a whole bunch of local authors who came to pay their respects. And, what was even cooler for me, I knew some of them. Hannah Jayne, Cara Black (who Joni and I had seen, and talked to, at the Los Gatos Library last year), Sheldon Siegel (who, as you already know ad nauseum, we had dinner with after an appearance at "M"), and Meg. As an added bonus, I met Juliet Blackwell, whose book, If Walls Could Talk, I just finished. I'll blog about that soon.
As another added bonus, Lindsay Wood, who is a rep for Penguin Books, was giving away ARC's (Advanced Reader Copies), which are books that are finished but haven't been published yet. She was looking for bloggers to read them and create some buzz about them prior to publication. I was only too happy to cooperate. So I've got books from 3 authors that I will be reading before they hit the stores (1 in March and 2 in May). Hopefully, I'll have more new authors to recommend after I do my reading.
As the final bonus, Joni and I had an opportunity to talk Sheldon's wife, Linda, for quite awhile. I mean, it's always fun to see Sheldon, but, come on, to meet his wife too? That was a real treat. Linda, we definitely enjoyed meeting you and talking to you.
But back to Meg. She had her latest book, The Four Ms. Bradwells, featured for sale at the "M" event. I bought it, had it autographed by Meg, of course, and just finished reading it this week. The story revolves around 4 women who meet in law school at the University of Michigan and become lifelong friends beginning with their first hour of class (Constitutional Law) on their first day of law school. The story begins 30 years later, with one of the friends going through a confirmation hearing to become a Supreme Court justice. There are a lot of flashbacks that tell the reader what led up to the situation they're in now.
This book has a couple of elements to it that do not fit my normal reading preferences. One, the story is about women, with men being tangentially important only as they support (or not) the women. I like women - a lot - but I'm certainly better able to relate to men (don't I, guys? buddies?). You might think this would make the book "chick lit." Here's why it's not, and the second reason I normally would not read this type of book - it's really well-written! When I saw Meg at "M," she mentioned that she likes to read literary fiction. I can now see why. That's what she writes. This is definitely not for the reader who likes to fly through books to add to a list (oh wait, usually that's me!). It requires the reader to pay attention, to focus on the characters and their histories, and to take it slow. It's thought-provoking without being pedantic. It's literary without being stuffy. The book flows very well and tells a very good story. There were moments when I went back to make sure that I was clear on the connections. That's something I do with Pat Conroy. He's someone else who I would consider to be literary but can still tell a great story. Meg, you're keeping some pretty good company!
I would definitely recommend The Four Ms. Bradwells for anybody that likes a good quality read that also hooks you on the characters. I cared about those 4 women and wanted everything to work out for them. But, most importantly, the book shows how important friends are. If you can point to 2 or 3 people and say they are as close to you as The Four Ms. Bradwells are to each other, then you are a lucky person indeed. No one knows that better than me.