cover image Four of a Kind

Four of a Kind

Valerie Frankel. Ballantine, $15 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-345-52540-6

In this engaging novel, seasoned author Frankel (It’s Hard Not to Hate You) creates four compelling female characters who lead wildly different lives but have one thing in common: their children all attend the same New York private school. Under the pretense of creating a Diversity Committee, blonde beauty Bess Steeple invites the three other women—Robin, Carla, and Alicia—over to her Brooklyn townhouse for a meeting. To break the ice, the women engage in a poker game where the betting currency isn’t money but secrets. As the game progresses, it’s revealed that Alicia’s in a sex-starved marriage; Robin’s daughter is the result of a one-night stand; Carla’s uptight husband is the source of endless stress; and Bess’s mother is a famous feminist. The meeting turns into a monthly poker game, where the women forge a strong bond while struggling, individually, with life’s challenges. While the “life is a card game” metaphors are overdone at times, the fresh dialogue, three-dimensional characters, and fast-moving plot lines are solidly entertaining. Agent: Nancy Yost, Nancy Yost Literary Agency. (Mar.)