Chris Cleave has taken the run-up to the London Olympics as the theme for his third novel. It charts the lives of Zoe, Jack and Kate, three Olympic hopefuls whose interwoven relationship amidst the world of international cycling reaches a crisis just two months out from the games. Added to this Kate and Jack Argall's daughter Sophie has leukemia and while Sophie is fighting for her life, Kate is fighting for a place in the Olympics against her long-term frenemy Zoe.
Sport is not the star here, and while Cleave does paw through the psychological baggage and practical demands made of top-flight athletes, this novel's focus is firmly fixed on the central menage-a-trois. It also quite frankly cycled a very fine pursuit line between sentimental, soap opera and sensitive drama. However I'm fully prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt due to unreserved admiration for his previous novel The Other Hand.
This was an interesting read. I picked it up when I didn't have a book to read and was waiting for my holds to come in. I really enjoyed it.
Outstanding. Cleave does not disappoint! A very compelling novel - and excellent choice for a Women's Fiction Book Discussion group!
Is it possible to write a book about elite cyclists in the twenty-first century without even mentioning performance-enhancing drugs? Apparently. Chris Cleave's Gold makes a solid attempt at using the highly strategic pursuit race as a metaphor for the psychological quest for happiness by two women involved in a highly competitive relationship triangle. While the rules, both on and off the track, seem to operate rather clearly along shifting ethical lines, the results would suggest everyone is operating on a level playing field (even when the banks of a velodrome are described as frighteningly steep.) Throughout, however, there seems to be overriding clarity, a persistent purity, a childlike goodness that only sports fans and romantic-comedy buffs could completely believe to be real. Maybe, as in most competitive sport and dating, what seems to be missing is "fun."
A letdown after Little Bee...the story's not really compelling, the characters are rather one-dimensional. I also felt that the plot development was a bit formulaic, but unlike Little Bee, what was meant to be a surprise element near the end of the book was not that surprising after all. Too bad.
The plot is more linear and better than the previous 2 books. But the thesis is less compelling, and the characters are thin and more one dimensional. Kate is a saint. Zoe is aggressive to no end. The ending is just too Hollywood. The only interesting character is the 8 year old Sophie.
Well written, a little tragic, but an interesting concept and story
I was a little reluctant to start this novel as I'm not a big sports fan, but boy am I glad I read it. The plot does revolve around 2 British women, Olympic-level cyclists, but it is about them as people. That's not to see I didn't learn a lot about competitive cycling that I didn't know (admittedly I didn't know much), because there is definitely information on that here, but it is woven seamlessly into the plot. We see the training, the structure and support behind the competitors, and the long road to success.
Kate and Zoe are the two women, and they met at the age of nineteen at a national training program in track cycling, the kind that is done in the velodrome, where they also began training with their coach Tom, and met Jack, Kate's future partner.
As the book begins, they are 24 and Zoe, Jack, and Tom are at the Athens Olympics, while Kate is back in England with baby Sophie. The book goes forward from there, with the background story brought in through the characters' looking back. The main action takes place in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics, with both Zoe and Kate training for the events, Zoe struggling with her drive, her history, and her fame, and Kate struggling to continue to be a good mother to her fragile daughter.
For both women, this is their last chance at an Olympics. Next time, their age will mean they won't be able to vie against younger competitors. We see Zoe as she struggles with her emotions, her anger, her guilt, her strong competitive drive that has her taking crazy risks, even off the track.
Kate is a natural rider and has the drive, but has been sidetracked before by her love and concern for her family. Jack tries to be a good father, but Kate isn't always willing to step away, and Jack often feels that he is more the fun parent. Sophie has health issues, but she wants her parents to do well too, and hides the extent of her illness when she can.
This book is about drive, friendships, love, and just being human. The characters come alive for us as complex people, not just the Olympic stars we see in the news. A great read.
i loved this book i thought i would not because one of the characters was sick but it was amazing i cannot wait to read another one of his books
I loved Little Bee and was very excited to read Chris Cleave's latest book, Gold. I was not disappointed. The topic of this book was very different from Little Bee. The basic gist of this book is about two cyclists competing for Olympic Gold and their relationship through their journey within the race and in everyday life (which includes one of them caring for a sick child). The twists and turns throughout this book really keep you engaged, I couldn't put it down. It was also interesting to read it while the London Olympics were on.
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