Thank you for Visiting

This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

April 2011 Selection: The Four Ms. Bradwell's

I'm excited for this months selection!  Meg Waite Clayton joined us in Napa (Escape 2009) to discuss The Wednesday Sisters so talking to Meg to discuss The Four Mrs. Bradwell's will be exciting for those of who met her a few years ago.

Meg will be wearing her pearls for our call and encourages each of us to do the same.    :)

Click here to return to the Manic Mommies post for The Four Ms. Bradwells




When: April 20th at 8PM EST

Call Details: (724) 444-7444
Enter: 90383 #
Enter: 1 #

Synopsis: Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, have reunited for a long weekend as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her appointment to the Supreme Court. Nicknamed “the Ms. Bradwells” during their first class at the University of Michigan Law School in 1979—when only three women had ever served full Senate terms and none had been appointed to the Court—the four have supported one another through life’s challenges: marriages and divorces, births and deaths, career setbacks and triumphs large and small. Betts was, and still is, the Funny One. Ginger, the Rebel. Laney, the Good Girl. And Mia, the Savant.

But when the Senate hearings uncover a deeply buried skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, the Ms. Bradwell’s 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.

Author Q&A:

Tell us a little about yourself:  With the publication of The Four Ms. Bradwells, I have three novels on bookstore shelves, and am working on a fourth which Ballantine will publish probably in 2013, depending in part on how fast I can write it. But I didn't start out being a novelist, I started out as someone who wanted to be a novelist but had no idea how one went about that - much less any faith in my own talent. I went off to the University of Michigan thinking I would become a doctor, one of the few educational and career paths I understood. I emerged after seven years as a corporate lawyer in a tidy blue suit, and it was years later - and only at my husband's gentle reminder that I wasn't getting younger - that I got up the nerve to give writing a serious try. I was thirty-two by then, and pregnant with my second son, who was eleven when my first novel was published. Writing, I've discovered, is a lot harder than it looks.

Along the way, I wrote short stories and essays, and more than a few pages that are in the proverbial drawer. I had great luck on the first piece I ever published, an essay called "What the Medal Means" which sold quickly to the only publication I could imagine it in: Runner's World. The other short nonfiction I've published has also placed relatively easily, but my fiction was slower going. I sent stories out again and again before they began to sell, revising each time before I mailed them until they did finally start appearing in publications that include Shenandoah, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Literary Review.

My fiction is not closely autobiographical, but I do draw heavily from my own emotions and experiences as I write. If you're interested, you can find quite a bit about how I've drawn from life for my writing on the Book Groups pages for each book. For starters, anything clever any child has done in anything I've written was likely first done by my sons Chris and Nick. Like Nelly in The Language of Light, I moved with them to the Maryland horse country that is fictionalized in that novel, to a farm that looked much like hers. Like the Wednesday Sisters, I've been raising them all the years I've been writing, developing the ability to write anywhere and anytime. Like Frankie, I moved a few times in my writing life, from Los Angeles to Baltimore to Nashville and now to Palo Alto, California. Growing up, I lived in ten different houses in Washington D.C., Kansas City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Jersey before I went off to college. Like Betts from The Four Ms. Bradwells, I went to the University of Michigan and Michigan Law, where I lived in a house with a ratty old couch on its porch that, again, looks remarkably like the Ms. Bradwells' law school home. Sadly, unlike Betts, I have yet to be nominated for the Supreme Court - but I'm still willing! 

Friendships are definitely at the core of my writing; I'm blessed with remarkable friends who fill that particular emotional well for me, and support me as I write. Jennifer Belt DuChene, my lawschool roommate, remains among my closest friends in the world, as does my Tuesday sister and fellow novelist, Brenda Rickman Vantrease, and my Tuesday brother and husband, Mac Clayton. My writing is an homage to them, and to all my friends.

Do you have a favorite book that you find you keep recommending to people to read?  Middlemarch AND To Kill a Mockingbird. Don't make me pick!

What are you reading now?  I'm actually reading a draft of a novel called "Playdate," written by my friend, Leslie Berlin. Her The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley is a terrific story - and a book I relied on heavily as I was writing The Wednesday Sisters. "Playdate" is her first venture into fiction.