“Bradstreet Gate” by Robin Kirman – Book Review

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.

Bradstreet Gate opened to Harvard’s Science Center

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.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, NetGalley and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “Bradstreet Gate” by Robin Kirman – Book Review

  1. Love the honest review!
    That is the beauty of books…it’s not a one size fits all 😊


  2. skyecaitlin says:

    Thanks for your candor, Lynne, and as others have mentioned, I personally didn’t care for Donna Tartt’s novel.


  3. Holly B / Dressedtoread says:

    Gosh, not sure how I would feel about that ending! Sounds like the mystery was interesting.


  4. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages but maybe the reason I keep putting it off is that I’ll have the same feeelings as you did. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Barb says:

    I agree with you Fictionophile. A murder mystery should reveal the perp!


  6. Annika Perry says:

    Lynne, this is an excellent summary and review of Bradstreet Gate. I haven’t heard of it before but your reference to Donna Tart’s book makes me wary. I did read that – well most of it as I had to skip ahead at times as it was so overlong. The start of that book is superb, gripping, fantastic…then it seems to fall into the pattern of this book…the end is immemorable. An honest and thorough and well-written review.


  7. I thought this might be one for me because I love books with an academic setting but given what you say maybe I’ll leave it until that day in the far distant horizon when I really do have nothing to read.


  8. Annie says:

    I’m a bit ttired of books gettng compared to The Secret History lol I didn’t even love that one so much! Sad this wasn’t your cup of tea!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s