Synopses & Reviews
What would you sacrifice for the people you love?
Kate and Zoe met at nineteen when they both made the cut for the national training program in track cycling — a sport that demands intense focus, blinding exertion, and unwavering commitment. They are built to exploit the barest physical and psychological edge over equally skilled rivals, all of whom are fighting for the last one tenth of a second that separates triumph from despair.
Now at thirty-two, the women are facing their last and biggest race: the 2012 Olympics. Each wants desperately to win gold, and each has more than a medal to lose.
Kate is the more naturally gifted, but the demands of her life have a tendency to slow her down. Her eight-year-old daughter Sophie dreams of the Death Star and of battling alongside the Rebels as evil white blood cells ravage her personal galaxy — she is fighting a recurrence of the leukemia that nearly killed her three years ago. Sophie doesnt want to stand in the way of her mums Olympic dreams, but each day the dark forces of the universe seem to be massing against her.
Devoted and self-sacrificing Kate knows her daughter is fragile, but at the height of her last frenzied months of training, might she be blind to the most terrible prognosis?
Intense, aloof Zoe has always hovered on the periphery of real human companionship, and her compulsive need to win at any cost has more than once threatened her friendship with Kate — and her own sanity. Will she allow her obsession, and the advantage she has over a harried, anguished mother, to sever the bond they have shared for more than a decade?
Echoing the adrenaline-fueled rush of a race around the Velodrome track, Gold is a triumph of superbly paced, heart-in-throat storytelling. With great humanity and glorious prose, Chris Cleave examines the values that lie at the heart of our most intimate relationships, and the choices we make when lives are at stake and everything is on the line.
"Cleave (Little Bee) goes for the gold and brings it home in his thrillingly written and emotionally rewarding novel about the world of professional cycling. Zoe Castle and Kate Meadows met at age 19 trying out for the British Cycling Team and have been friends and rivals for 13 years now. Kate might have more natural ability, but Zoe is the more driven of the two. Kate is married to a fellow racer, Jack Argall, and they have an eight-year-old daughter, Sophie, who suffers from leukemia. Zoe is pursued by her own demons and has a tabloid reputation for sleeping around, which doesn't sit well with her agent. Things begin to heat up when the International Olympic Committee changes its rules so that only one cyclist, either Zoe or Kate, will be eligible to compete in the 2012 London Games. Cleave expertly cycles through the characters' tangled past and present, charting their ever-shifting dynamic as ultra-competitive Zoe and Kate are forced to decide whether winning means more to them than friendship, building to a winner-take-all race at the Manchester Velodrome. Cleave likewise pulls out all the stops getting inside the hearts and minds of his engagingly complex characters. The race scenes have true visceral intensity, leaving the reader feeling as breathless as a cyclist. From start to finish, this is a truly Olympic-level literary achievement. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Cleave again displays a remarkable aptitude for rendering female characters with startling realism, one of the strengths of his previous novels (particularly 2009's Little Bee). He conjures Sophie's traumatized yet resilient young mind as deftly as he does the complex interior narratives of high-strung Zoe and the more philosophical Kate....In these breathless portrayals of sport and spirit, Gold illuminates the stories of courage, loss, and commitment that are behind each of the seemingly invincible Olympians we root for every four years." Elle magazine
"After the enormous popular success of his second novel, Little Bee, British author Cleave turns to the world of Olympic speed cyclists to explore the shifting sands of ambition, loyalty and love. Tom, who just barely missed his own medal in 1968, is coaching Kate and Zoe to represent Britain at the 2012 Olympics, which the 32-year-old women know will be their last....[Kate's] little girl Sophie is the novel's real heart. Cleave has a gift for portraying difficult children who pull every heartstring....[He] knows how to captivate with rich characters and nimble plotting." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Cleave's latest novel demonstrates the determination of three extraordinary athletes in a story about true sacrifice....[Their lives are] so intertwined, so complex, that the outcome is sure to be a surprise. Close on the heels of his international best seller Little Bee, British author Cleave has written another story so riveting that it is impossible to put down." Library Journal (starred review)
"A heartstring-tugger with an adrenaline-fueled plot from the bestselling author of Little Bee." People
"Readers galvanized by best-selling Cleave's previous politically scorching novels (Little Bee, 2009) will be surprised by his foray into the world of Olympic bicycle racing until they discern just how psychologically gripping a tale this is....Spanning the Athens, Beijing, and looming London 2012 Olympics, Cleave's brilliantly plotted, nail-biting, and emotional tale dramatizes the anguish and triumphs of ambition and sacrifice, fame and heartbreak to celebrate the true gold of love." Booklist (starred review)
"Cleave is an acutely intelligent wordsmith. Some of the sentences cut so deep you want to scream out in pain and recognition....This is an inspirational and moving novel in so many ways, and everyone should read it." The Times (UK)
"Strikingly well written...[Gold] has that rare gift of getting past the urban sneer to move and gratify, to stir us because it does, indeed, matter. It is bold and brave and, when you're on your way to the games this summer, and the person opposite you on the train is sobbing hot tears onto their Kindle, you'll have a pretty good idea what they're reading." Observer (UK)
"[Cleave] is such an energetic writer...Gold flows with the vitality of the sport it covers....An entertaining ride." Guardian (UK)
"What counts about this thrilling novel are the characters: the flaws and fears that fuel their need to compete, the drives and dreads that bring them together and threaten to bring them to blows....Chris Cleave deserves a medal." Daily Express (UK), Starred Review
Building on the tradition of Little Bee
, Chris Cleave again writes with elegance, humor, and passion about friendship, marriage, parenthood, tragedy, and redemption.
Gold is the story of Zoe and Kate, world-class athletes who have been friends and rivals since their first day of Elite training. They've loved, fought, betrayed, forgiven, consoled, gloried, and grown up together. Now on the eve of London 2012, their last Olympics, both women will be tested to their physical and emotional limits. They must confront each other and their own mortality to decide, when lives are at stake: What would you sacrifice for the people you love, if it meant giving up the thing that was most important to you in the world?
About the Author
Chris Cleave is the author of Incendiary and the #1 New York Times bestseller Little Bee. He lives with his wife and three children in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. Visit him at ChrisCleave.com or on Twitter @ChrisCleave.