Four of a Kind: A Novel

Four of a Kind: A Novel

4.5 8
by Valerie Frankel
     
 

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Besides the fact that their kids all attend the same fashionable Brooklyn Heights private school, Bess, Robin, Carla, and Alicia have little in common. Thrown together on the tony school’s Diversity Committee, the women impulsively turn their awkward first meeting into a boisterous game of poker. Instead of betting with chips or pocket change, however, they

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Overview

Besides the fact that their kids all attend the same fashionable Brooklyn Heights private school, Bess, Robin, Carla, and Alicia have little in common. Thrown together on the tony school’s Diversity Committee, the women impulsively turn their awkward first meeting into a boisterous game of poker. Instead of betting with chips or pocket change, however, they play for intimate secrets about their lives.
 
As the Diversity Commitee meetings become a highly anticipated monthly ritual, the new friends reveal more with each game. Picture-perfect housewife Bess struggles to relate to her surly teenage daughter and judgmental mother. Robin, a single mom, grapples with the truth concerning her child’s real father. Carla, an ambitious doctor, attempts to balance the colossal demands of her family with her dream of owning her own private practice. And to distract herself from her troubled marriage, shy copywriter Alicia fantasizes about an attractive younger colleague.
 
Putting all their cards on the table, the four women grow to rely on one another, bracing for one final showdown.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
“Smart, witty, and satisfying.”—Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of Heart of the Matter
 
“Valerie Frankel is one of a kind. Her novel Four of a Kind is by turns moving and hilarious—a great read.”—Nancy Thayer, author of Heat Wave
 
“The perfect antidote for today’s harried mother. While making me laugh on every page, Valerie Frankel’s insightful novel introduced me to four wonderful new friends I’ll never forget.”—Beth Harbison, author of Always Something There to Remind Me
Kirkus Reviews
Four women approaching middle age find insight and inspiration at the poker table, in Frankel's breezy latest (It's Hard Not to Hate You, 2010, etc.). To form the new PTA diversity committee at her sons' elite Brooklyn Heights private school, blond yummy-mummy Bess chooses three other mothers as different from herself as possible. There's Carla, an African-American pediatrician who, with her manipulative husband Claude, is struggling to afford the high tuition that will keep their sons from slipping out of the middle class. Robin, who lives off her inheritance, was once obese. Slim post-stomach-staple, she's looking on in horror as daughter Stephanie, conceived in a one-night stand with a suspected "chubby-chaser," must wear a size 14 at age 10. Advertising copywriter Alicia, whose son Joe was born after a long struggle with infertility, is going through a sexual dry spell: Her husband Tim, a stay-at-home dad, seems to have lost all conjugal interest. The first meeting of these four takes an unexpected turn: Bess announces they will play Texas Hold 'Em, but, in deference to the bad economy, the stakes will be not money but secrets. She herself reveals the hidden flaws in her outwardly perfect life: Unlike Tim, Bess' Wall Street insider husband Borden is oversexed. Her mother, Simone, a second-wave feminist icon, is trying to drive a wedge between Bess and teenage daughter Amy. As the poker nights progress, diversity in the politically correct sense is never discussed: instead the women find that their new connection is more and more crucial as each faces turning points, including Claude's impending job loss, Alicia's affair with a younger colleague, the unexpected reappearance of Robin's chubby-chaser in her and Stephanie's lives, Amy's increasing slovenliness and declaration of lesbian leanings and Borden's depression following his father's death. Although the closing empowerment scenarios are a bit pat, the poker conceit is an artful framing device, and the four women and their dilemmas are portrayed with Frankel's trademark witty empathy.

Transcends the conventions of chick lit to dramatize complex and timely issues.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345525406
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/07/2012
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
737,830
Product dimensions:
5.22(w) x 8.14(h) x 0.76(d)

Meet the Author

Valerie Frankel received critical acclaim for her bestselling memoirs, Thin Is the New Happy and It’s Hard Not to Hate You. She is the author of fifteen novels, including The Accidental Virgin, and is a journalist much in demand. Her writing has appeared in O: The Oprah Magazine, Allure, Self, Good Housekeeping and The New York Times, among others. She lives in Brooklyn Heights with her two daughters, four cats, and husband, opera singer Stephen Quint.

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