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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.face­ and www.twit­­ave.

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 ben­

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