The novel’s title, “Bradstreet Gate,” refers to a Harvard Yard gate that commemorates the Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet and the 25th anniversary of women living in the Yard.
In 1997 Julie Patel, a Harvard student, is murdered. “Bradstreet Gate” is about how this murder affects the lives of three of her fellow students and one of the Harvard professors.
Georgia Calvin is the blonde and beautiful daughter of a renowned photographer. Everyone lusts after her. Professor Storrow, Charlie, and even Alice.
Alice Kovac – Statuesque and striking looking but socially inept, Alice is the daughter of Serbian immigrants and Georgia’s best friend.
Charlie Flournoy – The youngest son of two boys, he is fond of poetry and things academic which is directly at odds with his father and elder brother who have more ‘manly’ pursuits. When he arrives at Harvard, Charlie tries to emulate Storrow in manner and attitude. Besotted with Georgia, he settles for being just her friend…
Professor Rufus Storrow comes across as a bit of a ‘prig’. A fastidious dresser, he is a result of his military West Point education. His reputation is his highest priority, Highly admired by the faculty and students, he entertains some of his favored students at dinner parties in his home.
When he begins an affair with the lovely Georgia, he insists that their relationship remain a secret so as not to jeopardize his career and cause a scandal at the prestigious university.
When Julia Patel is murdered, the murder seemed to have less impact on the three main characters than it should have. There seemed to be a disconnect. Also, we as readers don’t ever get to know Julie, so as a result we care less about what happened to her…
For a brief period at the beginning of the book we meet Georgia on the tenth anniversary of Julie’s murder. The grown-up Georgia was a much more interesting character than her younger university student self. Now she has a young baby and a husband who is dying of cancer. When she is interviewed by a university journalist about the anniversary of Julie’s death, it seems like a huge imposition on her time and her psyche.
The main characters in this novel are all carrying heavy baggage of one sort or another. They make the most unlikely friends. Although we get to know each of them, we don’t REALLY know them. It is a superficial acquaintance.
Many other readers have compared this novel to Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History”. I cannot compare them because I haven’t read “The Secret History”, but I must say that I hope Tartt’s novel has a more satisfying ending than this one. Many genres lend themselves to an open-ending, but a novel touted as a murder mystery should at least allude to ‘whodunit’. Sadly, the murderer in this story was never divulged which left me feeling puzzled and manipulated. Don’t misunderstand me, this novel is quite well-written – but however elegant the prose, the story must have some sort of cohesion for me to enjoy it. “Bradstreet Gate” did not – which made it quite a disappointing read for me.
Readers who are looking for a college story and a character study will be pleased by this novel, all others should probably pick up another book.Thanks to Crown Publishing who provided me with a free digital copy of this novel at my request via NetGalley.
ROBIN KIRMAN earned a BA in philosophy from Yale College and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, where she served as a writing instructor in the English department. Robin lives in New York City and Tel Aviv.