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The Peerless Four

A Novel

List Price: $15.95

November 11, 2014 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.25, 192 Pages | ISBN 9781619024410
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“Quietly scathing about the outrageous treatment of female athletes, the novel also shows the toll that competitive pressure takes on a quiet, shy male runner. Surviving, Patterson suggests, is more important than winning… Elegantly written.” —Kirkus

Running so hard you think you’ll choke on your next breath. Lungs burning like they’re drenched in battery acid. Peripheral vision blurred by the same adrenaline that drowns out the cheers coming from the full stadium. And of course, the reporters. The men scribbling furiously on their notepads so they can publish every stumble, sprain, and sniffle in these historic games.

This was the world of the female athletes in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, the first games in which women were allowed to compete in track and field (and on a trial basis, at that). Nicknamed “the Peerless Four,” the Canadian track team included some of the strongest and most diversely talented women on the scene. Narrated by the team’s chaperone—a former runner herself—the women embark on their journey with the same golden goals as every other Olympian, male or female. But as the Olympic tension begins to rise with unexpected injuries, heartbreaking disqualifications, and the pressure of supreme athletic performance, each woman discovers new fears and new priorities, all while the weight of women’s future in the Olympics rests on their performance poise.

The Peerless Four is more than a sports novel, more than a record of how far women’s rights have come in the past 75 years. It’s a meditation on sacrifice, loyalty, commitment, perseverance, and the courage to live a true underdog tale.

VICTORIA PATTERSON is the author of This Vacant Paradise, which was a 2011 New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her work has appeared in various publications and journals, including the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Southern Review. She lives with her family in Southern California and teaches through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and as a visiting assistant professor at UC Riverside. For more information, visit www.victoriapatterson.com.

Praise

“Quietly scathing about the outrageous treatment of female athletes, the novel also shows the toll that competitive pressure takes on a quiet, shy male runner. Surviving, Patterson suggests, is more important than winning… Elegantly written.” —Kirkus

“Patters 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.” —Publishers Weekly

“It’s also the most cautious and measured novel I’ve read in a while…  In this way, The Peerless Four resonates with our current moment. Sexism still saturates our media, and Patterson shows an earlier version… When writing about sports, Victoria Patterson becomes an athlete: she does what she needs to do with strength and focus, and leaves her audience to search for meaning.” —Three Guys One Book

“The Peerless Four may be more about the straight-jacket faced by “lady athletes” in the early 20th century than plucky underdogs winning it all. But either way […] this is an interesting and fun little book.” —New York Journal of Books 

“Talented, political, beautiful (see photo) “local” author Victoria Patterson, whose third book, a novel about women Olympians of all things, marks her first efforts to write beyond the class and sex critique of our funny… Victoria Patterson has focused her keen eye and significant research skills on a deeper history of both (!) sexism and classism… The ease with which this talented writer seems to be provocative and entertaining and still popular impresses everybody. Maybe it’s because her writing is so good that the rest of it sneaks up on you…  But Mel’s own writing, her biography of a distant and also pioneering women relative called startling and beautiful attention to the layering of stories here, and the meaning of peerless (as in voiceless, as in loud voices sometimes not heard or ignored) in terms of a woman-centered and class conscious worldview, well, that’s what peerless also means.” —OC Weekly

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