Patterson’s second novel (after 2011’s This Vacant Paradise) relates the fascinating story of Florence Smith, Bonnie Brody, Ginger Hadley, and Muriel Ziegler, who were among the first women to compete in the modern Olympics. The titular foursome, making up the Canadian women’s track team, head to the 1928 games in Amsterdam, where female athletes have been permitted to compete on a trial basis. They are accompanied by their chaperone, Marybelle Eloise Lee “Mel” Ross, a onetime runner now fleeing domesticity, and their sponsor, former hockey star Jack Grapes. The team members must all contend with their individual hopes and fears while often facing disapproval from society at large. Mel observes both their triumphs and failures, while admiring, envying, and guiding her charges. After the games, the women must come to terms with another challenge: returning to their everyday lives. Patterson mates genres—sports and period fiction—and the result is surprisingly rich and resonant. Finding and giving voice to her characters’ innermost lives, their best and worst selves, the author not only transcends categories but creates something poignant and memorable. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/16/2013 Release date: 10/01/2013 Genre: Fiction
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