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Gold: A Novel [Paperback]

Chris Cleave
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 5 2012
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 doesn’t want to stand in the way of her mum’s 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.

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“Gold is indeed a sentimental novel but it 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 on to their Kindle, you'll have a pretty good idea what they're reading.”
The Guardian (UK)

“Without giving away the ­melodramatic plot twist at the heart of the novel, suffice it to say that the final resolution involves enough heart-warming sacrifice to power the National Grid for a month. Gold is the kind of ­fiction usually described as ‘uplifting.’”
The Sunday Times

Gold is a story told as only Chris Cleave could tell it. And once you begin, it will be a heart-pounding race to the finish.”
The Omnivore

“Emotionally arresting (and exquisitely timed) . . . Cleave shines when he focuses on the cyclists’ sacrifices, including training sessions in which they push themselves to the brink of blacking out . . . Cleave’s fine novel will give you an appreciation for all that London’s Olympians have gone through as you watch them contort their bodies, leap for the heavens or pedal round and round and round.”
Sports Illustrated
“A heartstring-tugger with an adrenaline-fueled plot from the bestselling author of Little Bee.
“Cleave kick-starts his stories from the first breath and never takes his feet off the pedals.”
Washington Post
“[Cleave's] descriptions of riding fast, world's-fastest fast, are breathtaking.”
Los Angeles Times

“He is superb at communicating the excitement of a crucial sporting event, but he's also fascinated with minutiae, with the challenge of bringing tiny, precise detail to absorbing life on the page. . . . Cleave has a talent for harnessing your attention even when you're most reluctant to grant it. . . . Here is a novelist of dazzling skills capable of pushing whatever buttons he deems necessary to win the reader. But it those skills are also tempered by a profound integrity.”
The Windsor Star

“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

“Where this novel excels is in the cycling passages. [Cleave] transports us to the start line and the blood, sweat and tears that are demanded of an Olympic hopeful. . . . You can almost taste the salty perspiration and feel the heart-stopping anxiety of racing for gold. . . .  A timely novel which looks behind the medals to explore the sacrifices and the sometimes unpalatable decisions world-class athletes make in the pursuit of that ultimate prize: gold.”
Sunday Express

“Compelling and heart-wrenching.”
Good Housekeeping

“Cleave does a magnificent job of exploring the emotional terrain that top athletes must travel in order to become champions.”
The Independent (UK)

“. . . Gold is immensely enjoyable. It fizzes along, using a series of flashbacks to layer the story and wind up the tension until the climactic confrontation between Kate and Zoe. The writing is energetic and urgent, and, far from being geeky, the descriptions of bike racing are among the most poetic passages. Best of all are the powerful, dark moments where we glimpse the cost of obsession with something as painful as cycling.”
Financial Times

“Compelling, dramatic and . . . pure gold.”

“It is often unashamedly sentimental but Cleave is that rare creature—an Oxford graduate with an emotional IQ of Mensa proportions. Add some hard research to give his characters credibility and you have a dream team of story-telling ingredients.”
London Evening Standard --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 or on Twitter @ChrisCleave.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good read July 24 2012
By Dalton
Gold was not a disappointment What impressed me as in Little Bee and Incendiary is the ability of the writer to express the male and female voice of the characters equally well A male author with such a sensitive female voice I loved being part of the tremendous work and dedication of going for Gold The focus where real life must take a second place was made so clear The story itself was absorbing and waiting for the end happy or not kept pressing me forward.It was more relevant to me than the last two books as a couple with a sick child unfortunately may be but child and parents were indeed inspirational.I would recommend this book without any question.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Have your tissues ready! June 15 2012
By Mary Lavers TOP 500 REVIEWER
Have your tissues ready before you read Chris Cleave's new novel, Gold. At first glance it just seems like a story about two women who are best friends and long time rivals in the world of British cycling, but add a child with cancer and a few deep dark secrets and you'll be racing through this book through a patina of tears and gasps. Okay, that sounded lame. I realize it seems like I'm overstating this, but I really was crying through the last quarter of this book. I also found myself pushing to read faster so I could find out what happens (Ah, just like a bicycle race! Clever, Mr. Cleave!).

Chris Cleave's previous novel, Little Bee, was a huge critical success but I was ambivalent about it. I thought it seemed a little inauthentic, like Chris Cleave doesn't really know what it's like to be an African refugee woman (but, then, it's not like I do either). With Gold, however, I believed that the author not only knew what it was like to train as an Olympic athlete, he also knew what it was like to have a child with cancer, and to be a child with cancer for that matter. In his author's note he mentions a lot of research prior to writing this novel, and it shows. The novel felt real enough that I had to go check on my own daughter several times as she slept just to reassure myself that she was not suffering like the characters in this story.

For more reviews, please visit my blog, CozyLittleBookJournal.

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and Thoughful July 5 2014
Format:Kindle Edition

This is a really fun and simple cover. I really enjoy it. Plus it looks pretty on my shelf.

Initial Thoughts

I don't usually read a lot of adult contemporary. I don't know why because I read young adult contemporary. Sometimes they're just too adult like for me. I like fun and light books. This was not a fun and light book. It was a little rough, especially just starting it. It's about a little girl who has cancer and her mom is an olympic cyclist. It was really easy getting into it though. I was able to jump right into the story.

My New BFF

I really liked Sophie. Of all the characters I liked the little girl the most. A little weird. But she was really inspiring! I really liked how we got to see her point of view every once and a while. I love how she tried to hard to act tough so she wouldn't upset her parents. She was a great character.

My Crush

This isn't really a crush book but my favourite male character was Tom, the coach. He was amazing! He tried to be the grumpy old man but he loved Kate and Zoe so much. He was really great at inspiring others. Everything he did or said he did it for a reason. I thin I mostly liked him because he wasn't a typical character. He had his ups and downs too but he was always there when his girls needed him.

Writing Style

The writing style was pretty light. Even though there were some heavy topics it was dark and upsetting. It was actually really inspiring. He was great at building up his characters too. I like how we got to see a little bit into all their pasts. I also liked to different points of view. I found it really helped me get into the story.

Closing Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book.
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