Four of a Kind is written by the author Vanessa Russell who has published 5 shorts stories in literary magazines till date. She is a Women’s Studies scholar and loves reading and writing women’s historical fiction. Her latest book, Four of a Kind, revolves around four generations of women who meet at a dining table to write about the year of their awakening. With their memories, the author brings the Suffrage movement, prohibition, and the civil rights movement to the readers by telling the stories of four generations.
The novel is set in the years 1910, 1920, 1943 and 1964; the things these women write about reveal their secrets about unwanted pregnancies, unfaithful hearts and lost loves. This is written beautifully and questions the society’s perception about these women as they bear the struggle for women’s rights and how the struggles of one generation affected the next.
The oldest among the group is Ruby Wright – a great grandmother who had to submit to her husband’s wishes or get beaten. She lived in a time where domestic abuse in marriage was acceptable. But Ruby continued to attend the meetings to promote the Women’s Rights Movement. While Bess Wright-Pickering continued the project and was able to openly demonstrate her support. Bess’s daughter Katy Pickering also wrote in support of Birth Control Clinics and had to endure a tragedy she thought no one would be able to relate to. Jesi, the youngest, turns out to be a rebel in her own right and explains why she has a special interest in the civil rights movement and writes about why she hasn’t told anyone about her lover.
The way the characters are linked through generations in a mother daughter relationship is an amazing idea as it tells the readers about how women will always be connected with their problems and their struggle for rights.
There are some parts in this book that will surprise you, but Vanessa Russell has knitted her tale perfectly and for those who love women’s fiction or historical fiction, there isn’t going to be a dull moment in the book. As far as good historical fictions goes, Four of a Kind, in fact, is one of its kind.