Missing the euphoria of London 2012? Here’s a timely pick-me-up. Read Ben Veal’s review of G0LD: a fictional tale of two 0lympic cyclists battling for a place in the Games. Written by bestselling US author Chris Cleave, it just might get you rising off your seat and cheering once more…
Author: Chris Cleave Publisher: Sceptre Price: £7.99, $16.00 (Kindle version available) Available from Amazon ( UK / USA) Rating:
Last year’s Olympic Games was a sporting event that few of us here in the UK are likely to forget in a hurry. Preempted by years of cynicism, the overwhelming success of London 2012 stunned critics and united the nation in jubilant fashion, as eyes across the globe turned to our nation’s capital to see the very best athletes in the world compete for the chance to be immortalised in history – by winning Gold. It is this quest that serves as the backdrop for Chris Cleave’s third
novel Gold (Sceptre, 2012), the author’s follow-up to New York Times bestseller The Other Hand (or Little Bee as it was marketed in America).
Gold is the fictional tale of British Olympic cyclists Zoe Castle and Kate Meadows – but don’t let the two-wheeled subject matter put you off. Having trained and raced against each other for fifteen years, these two athletes are among the fastest in the world – a fact that will be put to the test when the ICO declares a rule change stating that only one of them can represent their country in London. Now, that’s an Olympic-sized pickle for you. The two lead protagonists couldn’t be more different from one another, at least on the face of it: Zoe is a relentless, self-destructive, man-eating celebrity cyclist, seemingly destined for the win from the outset. Kate, meanwhile, is the mother of Sophie, a brave eight-year-old battling with leukemia. Kate is struggling to keep on top of the rigorous training regime alongside husband, and fellow Olympian, Jack. Bolstering the two females together is veteran coach Tom, whose withering frame has just about one more Games left in it. The contrast between Zoe and Kate makes for some truly absorbing reading, as the two rivals-turned-friends push towards victory, and battle to keep on top of their respective personal demons. But Gold is about much more than the sport of cycling.
“Gold is about what we choose to put first: our ambition, or the people we love ... which is a heartbreaking human dilemma. We call it work/life balance, and I chose to pose the dilemma to athletes because in sport there’s nowhere to hide. Failure and success are absolute and the human choices are very hard.” – Chris Cleave, author of Gold.
In one of the story’s pivotal moments, a sportscaster comments on the action taking place before his eyes. He astutely observes: “We can easily forget, underneath all the glitz and the glamour of an Olympics, that these are real people, real families like yours and mine”. Much like Cleave’s last book, which tackled the hard topic of immigration, Gold uses the world of professional cycling merely as a setting for what is a sublime and richly-written character piece, revolving around an engaging central cast and with a plotline that will keep you guessing right up until the very last page. It’s an emotional read, to say the least. As Gold confirms, when it comes to the problems of real people placed in extraordinary circumstances, few can tell their story quite like Chris Cleave.
Gold is now available to buy from all leading bookshops and online. To find out more about the author, visit www.facebook.com/ChrisCleaveBooks and www.twitter.com/chriscleave.
Ben Veal is a PR and Digital Marketing professional based in Wiltshire, UK. Ben studied Film at university, and in his attempts to escape from the real world spends most of his free time with his head buried inside a book whilst listening to obscure – and often terrible – bands. Find out more about Ben’s work at benvealpr.com.