Women's rights or lack thereof along with sexism are the main themes of the book. I overwhelmingly support the author in those endeavors. At the end of the book there is an index of women's achievements in the early days of sport as well which is greatly appreciated. However the book fails in an attempt to be spot on with details of the sport. The writer seems to have a superficial knowledge of track and field that could have been acquired in the scanning of a coaching primer. Perhaps being historically accurate was not a goal of this work. But any track and field fan, who is seduced by the cover of this book showing "Saskatchewan Lily" clearing the high jump bar, will be somewhat deceived by the less than stellar descriptions of the sport. By comparison, Tim Johnston wrote a nonfiction book titled "Otto Peltzer, His Own Man", and he made it as exciting as a novel, with great descriptions of actual races, training, and societal leanings. Peltzer, a world class runner and homosexual was as controversial as any athlete in the 1932 and 1936 Games and for thirty years thereafter. For its lack of historical accuracy, I cannot recommend The Peerless Four to a reader who is a fan or serious and knowledgeable participant in the sport. In reality there were 6 women on that first Canadian team known affectionately as "The Matchless Six". The title cops a plea and calls itself The Peerless Four. No way. No thank you.
The author and publisher get away with the standard disclaimer about works of fiction , "Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used ficticiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental." Okay you're cleared, but it is a disappointment to this reader. The cover has a nice picture of Ethel Catherwood clearing the bar in Amsterdam, but the newspaper clipping under it a fiction, and I should have picked up on that.
Among the journalists who lambasted the 'collapsing women' after the 800 meters in which the first four broke the world record was William L. Shirer who would later write the popular Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and John R. Tunis who wrote a bevy of boys books (fictional). I guess their 'journalistic work' was somewhat fictional as well. In Amsterdam, Paavo Nurmi was flat on his back after one of his races, but that was okay. He was a man. Probably some old boy collusion between the organizers and the journalists.
Here are links to brief but real bios of each of the six Canadian women on that team from Sports Reference.
Ethel Catherwood HJ 1st HJ WR
Jenny Thompson 4th 800
Bobby Rosenfeld 2nd 100 5th 800 1st 4x100
Myrtle Cook 5th 100 1st 4x 100
Florence "Jane" Bell 9th 100 1st 4x 100
Ethel Smith 3rd 100 1st 4x 100