Summary and book reviews of Gold by Chris Cleave

Gold
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Jul 2012, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2013, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Guidarini

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About this Book

Book Summary

Building on the tradition of Little Bee, Chris Cleave again writes with elegance, humor, and passion about friendship, marriage, parenthood, tragedy, and redemption.

Gold is the story of Zoe and Kate, world-class athletes who have been friends and rivals since their first day of Elite training. They've loved, fought, betrayed, forgiven, consoled, gloried, and grown up together. Now on the eve of London 2012, their last Olympics, both women will be tested to their physical and emotional limits. They must confront each other and their own mortality to decide, when lives are at stake: What would you sacrifice for the people you love, if it meant giving up the thing that was most important to you in the world?

203 Barrington Street, Clayton, East Manchester

On a tiny TV in the cluttered living room of a two-bedroom terraced house, Kate Meadows watched her best friend emerge from the tunnel into the central arena of the velodrome. The crowd noise doubled, maxing out the TV’s speakers. Her heart surged. The baby’s bottle was balanced on the TV, and the howl of the crowd raised concentric waves in the milk. When Zoe lifted her arms to acknowledge the crowd’s support, the answering roar sent the bottle traveling across the top of the TV. It teetered on the edge, fell to the floor, and lay on its side, surrendering white formula from its translucent teat to the thirsty brown hessian of the carpet. Kate ignored it. She was transfixed by the image of Zoe.

Kate was twenty-four years old, and since the age of six, her dream had been to win gold in an Olympics. Her eighteen years of preparation had been perfect. She had reached the highest level in the sport. She had shared a coach ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Discuss the opening scene of Gold where Kate and baby Sophie are watching Zoe win the gold at the 2004 Olympics. What did you learn about Kate’s personality as a wife, mother, and athlete in this one scene? How does this scene set the stage for the rest of the novel?

  2. According to Sophie, “You could play boys’ games like Star Wars that had fighting and spaceships and made you look tough, even if you weren’t tough enough to ride a bike.” Consider Sophie’s obsession with Star Wars. What attracts her to these movies? What does she have to prove by playing “tough” boys’ games?

  3. Consider Tom’s first impressions of his two star athletes: “Bit by bit, race by race, year by year, a girl ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Chris Cleave's emphasis on relationships is at the heart of the book. His ability to make us care about his characters is his great strength. We may not always like the choices the characters make, but Cleave at least lets us see their motivations. Of course this doesn't necessarily absolve them of guilt but we at least begin to understand their actions and see the characters for who they are – flawed human beings.   (Reviewed by Lisa Guidarini).

Full Review Members Only (413 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. From start to finish, this is a truly Olympic-level literary achievement.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Cleave's latest novel demonstrates the determination of three extraordinary athletes in a story about true sacrifice... [Their lives are] so intertwined, so complex, that the outcome is sure to be a surprise. Close on the heels of his international best seller Little Bee, British author Cleave has written another story so riveting that it is impossible to put down.

Booklist

Starred Review. Readers galvanized by best-selling Cleave's previous politically scorching novels (Little Bee, 2009) will be surprised by his foray into the world of Olympic bicycle racing until they discern just how psychologically gripping a tale this is... Spanning the Athens, Beijing, and looming London 2012 Olympics, Cleave's brilliantly plotted, nail-biting, and emotional tale dramatizes the anguish and triumphs of ambition and sacrifice, fame and heartbreak to celebrate the true gold of love.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. In weaker hands this would seem a bit contrived, but Cleave knows how to captivate with rich characters and nimble plotting

The Times (UK)

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 Observer (UK)

Strikingly well written... [Gold] 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 onto their Kindle, you'll have a pretty good idea what they're reading.

The Guardian (UK)

[Cleave] is such an energetic writer... Gold flows with the vitality of the sport it covers... An entertaining ride.

The Daily Express (UK)

What counts about this thrilling novel are the characters: the flaws and fears that fuel their need to compete, the drives and dreads that bring them together and threaten to bring them to blows... Chris Cleave deserves a medal.

Reader Reviews

Diane S.

Gold
What an emotionally intense and powerful read I found this to be, who knew? When I first started reading this novel I thought "Super, a book about Olympic caliber cyclists" which was for me of interest in and of itself. Yet this book was so...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Track Racing and the Velodrome

The first velodrome was built around 1870 in Brighton, England. The word velodrome derives from velocipede (Latin: fast foot), which is the term used to describe any human-powered land vehicle with one or more wheels; and drome, from the Latin dromus meaning racecourse.

There are thousands of velodromes in the world, both indoor and outdoor, located everywhere from Europe to Tahiti which vary in shape, size and materials used - inexpensive tracks are usually made out of concrete, tarmac or even cinder, while world class tracks tend to be made out of timber or synthetics; but to be considered an Olympic or World Championship velodrome the track must be 250m, consisting of two steeply banked semi-circular bends connected by two ...

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