Gold by Chris Cleave


Five words from the blurb: endurance, cry, succeed, struggles, sacrifice

I loved The Other Hand (Little Bee in the US) and so was keen to try Chris Cleave’s new book, Gold. I think Gold is the better book, but as there were so many similarities between the two I was slightly less impressed than I was with The Other Hand.

Gold follows Kate and Zoe, a pair of British cyclists, as they battle to take the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics. The two girls have very different personalities – Zoe is ruthless and selfish, not caring what she has to do in order to achieve her goal; whilst Kate is calmer and tries to balance cycling with her family life. This is difficult for Kate as her eight-year-old daughter has leukaemia. With the London Olympics fast approaching this book is very topical and will make you think about what those athletes are sacrificing to be top of their game.

I hate reading about sport so was worried this book might not be to my taste, but luckily the technical details were not really mentioned – it is all about the emotion created:

Tom Voss still remembered how it had felt for him, back in Mexico in ’68, to miss out on Olympic bronze by one tenth of a second. He could feel the anguish of it even now, in his chest, raw and unavenged. Forty-four years later he still noticed the sharp passage of every tenth part of every second. The inflections of time were the teeth of a saw, bisecting him. This was not how other people experienced time. They noticed its teeth indistinctly in a blur of motion and were amazed to wake up one day and find themselves cut in half by it, like the assistants of a negligent magician. But Tom knew how the cut was made.

The book was fast paced and engaging throughout – it is almost impossible to put it down as the action increases relentlessly until its heartbreaking conclusion. The touching scenes with the ill child were some of the best in the book, but as a mother I found them difficult to read. Yes, this book is emotionally manipulative, but I loved it for that.

I know that many people were annoyed by the “we’re not going to tell you anything” blurb of The Other Hand. If you were one of those people then I suggest you stay well away from Gold – the blurb is equally vague and there is a similar “you’re going to love this book” letter from the editor. This Amazon review takes an amusing look at the negative aspects of this book and although I enjoyed the book I agree with most of the points made.

This is a quick, gripping and emotional read. If you enjoyed The Other Hand, this book will not disappoint.


15 replies on “Gold by Chris Cleave”

I really enjoyed this one too. I remember reading The Other Hand, with the letter from the editor and the lack of blurb, so wasn’t surprised to see it had been done again here. In some ways I liked going in to the book knowing very little about the storyline, though I can understand the views of those who would prefer a straightforward synopsis too. Nevertheless, a gripping storyline.

Lindsay, I don’t mind going into a book knowing very little either – especially when I already know the author. I do think it’s strange that they aren’t even telling people it is about the Olympics – I’d have thought that was the perfect way to sell more copies. Publishing is a strange world sometimes!

I haven’t read Cleave’s other works but I enjoyed Gold. I found it difficult to connect to in the beginning, but I ended up really enjoying it by the second half. My review is up tomorrow!

Shan, It works in reverse too – if you enjoyed Gold I’m sure you’ll enjoy The Other Hand too. (Probably Incendiary too, but I haven’t read that so can’t really comment :-)) I look forward to reading your review.

nomadreader, This is the perfect Olympic read! Part of me wishes I’d waited to read it until Olympic fever had hit. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

I have Little Bee but have’t read it yet. My mom said it was a good but difficult one. And ack! Kids with cancer. Although I am sure it is touching and poignant to see their sacrifice for their passion. If it is manipulative, in the right mood I just might get angry!

Sandy, Good, but difficult is a good way to describe both books. I hope you don’t get angry when you read them, but I would understand as a lot of people do.

Simon and Schuster sent me this to review, and I’m so glad it will not disappoint after (the American title) Little Bee. Yes, that blurb about we’re not going to tell what this novel is about was annoying! 🙂 Thank goodness we have you to help!

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