Gold is the latest book by Chris Cleave. He isn’t a quick writer but he is worth waiting for. His earlier book The Other Hand is one of my all time favourite books and his first book Incendiary was controversially about the London bombings. Each book is very different from each other in subject matter and he is very topical. Gold is about elite cycling and has two women who are each other’s best friend and the husband of one of them all headed for the English track cycling team for the London Olympic Games. The two women have a close relationship, but they are also each others closest rivals for medals at the Games. The story goes back and forth in time to when they first met, and how they got where they are. An important side issue for one of the women Kate and her husband Jack is the serious illness of their daughter. Sophie has leukaemia and her health and treatments mean Kate has less focus on her training than the ultra competitive Zoe.
While sport is central to the story, the book has a lot more going for it. Largely because Chris Cleave has written it. He writes about women really well and all of his characters are thoroughly believable. Even Zoe, who makes choices which could be hard to understand, in Cleave’s hands they are all plausible. Probably not what most of us would choose, but elite athletes are a different species from most of us.
If you haven’t read Chris Cleave, you need to. He is one of the best writers around. Gold is $33. The Other Hand is $25. Incendiary is $20.