There are athletes and there are Athletes. Chris Cleave portrays a trio of athletes of the capital variety in his latest novel, Gold. Kate, Zoe and Jack met on the same day in an elite training program for promising young cyclists. They’re each 19, fit, and fabulous on their bikes and off. Though they are all bound for Olympic glory, rivalries and relationships follow them through years of training, competition and everyday life.
Chris Cleave is guest host of #litchat on Friday, June 7, 2013, 4-5 p.m. E.T.
As the novel slips up and down through time, we learn that Jack, the unwitting hub of this trio, is married to Kate, but has a complicated history with Zoe, who becomes Kate’s best friend. This history greases the gears throughout the story as Kate and Jack make sacrifices on behalf of their critically ill daughter, Sophie. Kate misses her first Olympics when she must stay home with infant Sophie, still in the danger zone from her premature birth. Zoe, wild and tuned for trouble, goes on to compete and wins her first two gold medals. Four years later, Zoe gets the gold again in Beijing after her closest competition, Kate, leaves the games early for a health emergency with Sophie. Shift forward four more years and Zoe and Kate must go wheel to wheel again to see who gets a chance for London’s gold.
The complicated backstories of each character—including the wonderful child Sophie—transform Gold from an ordinary tale about Olympic success, to one of sacrifice, surrender and satisfaction.
Chris Cleave’s debut novel Incendiary won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s First Fiction award 2005. It had an unusual start in life, being a novel about an imagined terrorist attack on London that was published, by awful coincidence, on 7th July 2005. His second novel, published in 2008, is titled Little Bee in Canada and the US, where it is a New York Times #1 bestseller. It is titled The Other Hand in the UK, where it is a Sunday Times bestseller. It was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. Cleave is working on a new novel set in London and the Mediterranean and inspired by the lives of his grandmother, who drove ambulances during the war, and his grandfather, who was part of the fledgling SAS and who was once assigned to Randolph Churchill with the order: “Look after him, David, and if at all possible keep him out of trouble.” Cleave lives in London with his wife and three children.
Follow Chris Cleave on Twitter: @ChrisCleave.