Saira Rao Chambermaid: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780802118493

Chambermaid: A Novel

2.7 avg rating
( 223 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780802118493: Chambermaid: A Novel

The devil holds a gavel in this wickedly entertaining debut novel about a young attorney’s eventful year clerking for a federal judge. Sheila Raj is a recent graduate of a top-ten law school with dreams of working for the ACLU, but law school did not prepare her for the power-hungry sociopath, Judge Helga Friedman, who greets her on her first day. While her beleaguered colleagues begin quitting their jobs, Sheila is assigned to a high-profile death penalty case and suddenly realizes that she has to survive the year as Friedman’s chambermaid  not just her sanity, but actual lives hang in the balance. With Chambermaid , debut novelist Saira Rao breaks the code of silence surrounding the clerkship and boldly takes us into the mysterious world of the third branch of US government, where the leaders are not elected and can never be fired. With its biting wit and laugh-out-loud humor, this novel will change everything you think you know about how great lawyers, and great judges, are made.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Here is the legal system exposed and skewered for what it is: haplessly human. Columbia Law School grad Sheila Raj accepts a clerkship from Judge Helga Friedman of the federal court of appeals in Philadelphia, and the world appears to be at her feet. The terrain inside the courthouse turns to quicksand, however, as Sheila discovers Friedman is a sociopathic, homicidal, bipolar jurist who screams at, mocks and otherwise tortures her clerks. Yet Sheila and co-clerks Matthew and Evan must suffer in silence, since the world universally views Judge Friedman as a champion of liberalism. During her tenure, Friedman had nailed cops for racial profiling, overturned a law banning pornography on First Amendment grounds, and nine out of ten times thought company executives were sexually harassing pricks. If she weren't a tyrant who racially profiled her law clerks, she'd be worth idolizing, Sheila laments. This judicial nut job winds up the crucial member of a panel hearing a death penalty appeal that pits her against a rival judge with a dirty little secret that Sheila helps reveal. While Rao's wit shines in her debut, the former TV producer and federal appeals court clerk plays most of the characters for slapstick, which generates more smirks than laughs. (July)
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Review:

"Funny and charming." -- Gary Shteyngart

"A smart, in-depth look behind the courtroom walls, revealing the lack of honor toiling for an honorable judge, showing the devil really wears a black robe; luckily for Rao's determined, funny heroine, justice is ultimately served." -- Jill Kargman

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Saira Rao
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