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Gold by Chris Cleave (2012)



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You can trust Chris Cleave to come up with something that's fast moving and entertaining whilst being just slightly offbeat without being pretentious. Here he comes up with a novel about sport that I reckon even non-sports fans could enjoy. What could be better to read in an Olympic year?

I liked the development of the two main characters, rivals in the national cycling squad. Kate is more talented but Zoe has greater drive and is unafraid to use gamesmanship. I thought the friendship between them was well done, though given that they were rivals I suspect the friendship relied heavily on the fact that Kate was so conventionally 'nice'.

The book dealt a considerable surprise at the end - in the sense that it didn't end the way I had expected. From about two thirds of the way in, when a crucial fact about the relationship between the characters comes to light, a particular plot twist seemed pretty much inevitable. In avoiding its gravitational pull the author delivered a surprise that ought to qualify as a twist in itself. I wish I could say what it was but unfortunately it would constitute a spoiler.

There are several points in the book where the author decided to 'go off on one' and wax lyrical about some minor observation. A good half page is devoted to a flamboyant depiction of motorists making obscene hand gestures. I imagined the author building it up like some classical artist, starting with words of one syllable and gradually adding more and more flourishes until he was happy with the result. Similarly his description of The Proclaimers: Are they still touring, one of the characters wonders. Yes they are because I've seen them twice in recent years, and the book's depiction of their act is spot on! ( )
  jayne_charles | Jun 25, 2016 |
I really don't like 5 point grading systems! This book rates 7/10. It is a good read. My wife suggests that this book is paced like track cycle sprint race, very slow at the start but gradually winding up to fast and furious finish. I agree, but the very slow start makes it hard to get involved and, I think, diminishes the impact. Also I could have done with much less of "Star Wars" and the epilogue was unnecessary. But having got my moans out of the way, I enjoyed it. ( )
  johnwbeha | Nov 18, 2015 |
This was very timely reading as it is the story of two British women, Zoe and Kate, who are training for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. They are track cyclists who share the same coach and have had a long troubled relationship with each other as both competitors and friends. Not much more can be said about the plot without providing a spoiler. Part of the story is told from the point of view of one of the women’s eight year-old daughter who is battling a recurrence of leukemia and frequently handles it with a fantasy life revolving around Star Wars. I enjoyed the book. There were unexpected twists that kept the story interesting. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
Couldn't finish this book either; good story of sporting rivalry but the eight year old with cancer was all too sad. ( )
  siri51 | Jul 14, 2015 |
Another book club book and one that I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own. I didn't love this book but I didn't hate this book either. I found it to be interesting but not one that I loved.

Gold is about 3 cyclists going for GOLD at many different Olympics. You have Jack, Kate and Zoe. All three first meet when they were young and just starting out in cycling. Then there is Sophie, Jack and Kate's daughter who is fighting Leukemia. Kate gives up going to the Olympics after Sophie and once she is diagnosed with Leukemia it looks like her hopes are gone forever.

Gold follows all three with flashbacks and to the present. You learn how each individual was shaped into the adult they are now. Seeing how each one had a different beginning and what drove them to get into cycling. The things they do with and to each other during the book makes for some entertaining and heartbreaking moments. ( )
  crazy4reading | May 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Go for Gold if you want to enter into some Olympic spirit via the ups and downs of a tight-knit group of characters. However, if you find yourself unmoved by the kind of technical details contained in, "he prodded questioningly at the minimalist opening mechanism of the apartment’s high-gloss olive-lacquered sliding front door", then this may not be your idea of a winner.
This might have been the “North Dallas Forty” or “Ball Four” of an obscure Olympic sport — sharp, revelatory, funny. ­Instead it’s “Beaches” on bikes.
added by geocroc | editNew York Times, Bruce Barcott (Jul 13, 2012)
Gold is in every sense a taut novel about three intimate, sharply drawn characters – lovers, rivals – training for cycling gold medals at the 2012 Olympics.
Like most novels about sport, Chris Cleave's Gold isn't really about sport. Sport as an activity, of course, is unbeatably thrilling if you're a participant or a fan. The problem is, if you're neither of those things, it can be the most astonishing bore.
added by geocroc | editThe Guardian, Patrick Ness (Jun 8, 2012)
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.
added by geocroc | editThe Observer, Alex Preston (Jun 3, 2012)
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Cyclists Zoe and Kate are friends and athletic rivals for Olympic gold, while Kate and her husband Jack, also a world-class cyclist, must contend with the recurrence of their young daughter's leukemia.

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