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Gold: A Novel Hardcover – July 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451672721
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451672725
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2012: Kate and Zoe, the central characters in Chris Cleave’s fast-paced and poignant Gold, are classic frenemies. Professional cyclists who have been training with--and competing against--each other for almost 15 years, they have one career-defining difference: Zoe will do anything to win, but there are lines Kate refuses to cross. Cleave jumps back and forth in time as they prepare for their final Olympics, showing how the two athletes met and unveiling all the ways in which they are inextricably linked. They share a coach, Tom (who clearly has a favorite); Kate’s husband, Jack, has a long history with both women; and Kate and Jack’s daughter, Sophie, binds them all together. While cycling is the focus of the plot, the heart of Gold is the sacrifice we make for our families. --Caley Anderson

Review

The #1 IndieNext Pick for July
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An Instant New York Times bestseller
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One of Marie Claire’s “Favorite Reads”
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A DailyBeast/Newsweek Book Club Pick
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A Martha Stewart Living Book Club Pick
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A USA Today Books Pick

“A heartstring-tugger with an adrenaline-fueled plot from the bestselling author of Little Bee.” (People)

“Like the best-selling Little Bee, Cleave’s new book, Gold, is highly emotionally charged . . . Cleave immersed himself in the world of track cycling and makes the most of his research in scenes of stunning athletic endurance, but it’s the trials of the human spirit that are his real material in a novel meant to move you. And it does.”—New York Daily News

“If Olympic medals were awarded for dramatic stories about what drives athletes to compete and succeed, Cleave would easily ascend the podium. Gold does for sport racing what Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild did for high-risk adventure: It demystifies its allure, giving readers an inside track on a certain type of compulsive mindset. But Gold is also about time, ambition and love, three life forces continuously jockeying for supremacy. Novels, like racing, depend on careful pacing, and Cleave calibrates his performance with the skill of a real pro, carefully ratcheting up the intensity as he finesses curves and heads into his final laps. . . . Cleave spins a doozy of a plot, with enough drama and sentiment to sustain a soap opera. His characters are humanized by their struggle with their personal demons . . . . With Gold, Cleave unleashes megawatts of power in yet another triumphant dash toward literary success.”—NPR

“Cleave's great gift is his ability to write moving fiction that also provides original, contemporary insights. . . . Gold is a real winner of a novel.”—USA Today

“Cleave kick-starts his stories from the first breath and never takes his feet off the pedals.” —Washington Post

“Cleave again displays a remarkable aptitude for rendering female characters with startling realism, one of the strengths of his previous novels (particularly 2009’s Little Bee). He conjures Sophie’s traumatized yet resilient young mind as deftly as he does the complex interior narratives of high-strung Zoe and the more philosophical Kate. . . . In these breathless portrayals of sport and spirit, Gold illuminates the stories of courage, loss, and commitment that are behind each of the seemingly invincible Olympians we root for every four years.”Elle

“Emotionally arresting (and exquisitely timed) . . . Cleave shines when he focuses on the cyclists’ sacrifices, including training sessions in which they push themselves to the brink of blacking out . . . Cleave’s fine novel will give you an appreciation for all that London’s Olympians have gone through as you watch them contort their bodies, leap for the heavens or pedal round and round and round.”Sports Illustrated

“Chris Cleave’s latest novel lives and breathes, sweats and suffers at the harrowing place where ambition collides with sacrifice. That it arrives on the eve of the 2012 Olympic Games in London is perfect timing on the part of Cleave and publisher Simon & Schuster, but Gold would be first class anytime, anywhere. It’s an adrenaline-fueled drama about winning and losing, in the velodrome and daily existence, an explosive exploration of the cost of success and the way sports competition can spill unhappily into life. It will force you to reconsider the definition of “victory,” and it will leave you breathless . . . Cleave proves again that if writing were an Olympic sport, he’d be vying for a medal.”Miami Herald

Gold wins a medal for impressive timing: Chris Cleave’s adrenalized novel—which breathlessly tracks the complicated friendship and furious competition between two speed cyclists, Kate and Zoe, as they train for a fictional London 2012 Olympics—arrives just a month before the opening of the actual London 2012 Olympics. . . . As Cleave demonstrated in his best-seller Little Bee, he is a full-hearted writer.”Entertainment Weekly

“Cleave goes for the gold and brings it home in his thrillingly written and emotionally rewarding novel about the world of professional cycling. . . . Cleave expertly cycles through the characters’ tangled past and present, charting their ever-shifting dynamic as ultra-competitive Zoe and Kate are forced to decide whether winning means more to them than friendship . . . Cleave likewise pulls out all the stops getting inside the hearts and minds of his engagingly complex characters. The race scenes have true visceral intensity, leaving the reader feeling breathless . . . From start to finish, this is a truly Olympic-level literary achievement.”—Publishers Weekly (boxed 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.”Library Journal (starred review)

“After the enormous popular success of his second novel, Little Bee, British author Cleave turns to the world of Olympic speed cyclists to explore the shifting sands of ambition, loyalty and love. Tom, who just barely missed his own medal in 1968, is coaching Kate and Zoe to represent Britain at the 2012 Olympics, which the 32-year-old women know will be their last. . . . [Kate’s] little girl Sophie is the novel’s real heart. Cleave has a gift for portraying difficult children who pull every heartstring. . . . [He] knows how to captivate with rich characters and nimble plotting.”—Kirkus Reviews (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.”Booklist (starred review)

Gold spins a tire-ripping velodrama out of two subjects underrepresented in novels: the head-games of Olympic track cycling and the heart-splitting demands faced by female athletes who try to balance motherhood and elite competition. . . . the novel’s deepest human resonance is pumped up by eight-year-old Sophie Argall, whose reliance on a Star Wars fantasy life as she strives to be a champion leukemia patient is depicted with beguiling tough-tenderness. . . . Well worth the ride for its contextual details, its generous supply of dramatic scenes and the steadiness of Cleave's storytelling pulse.”—ShelfAwareness.com

“[Chris Cleave] knows how to tell a story . . . Gold is a tightly wound, suspenseful tale set in the months and years leading up to the Summer Olympics in London.”Columbus Dispatch

“TV producers who create those biographical segments on Olympic athletes could only wish that Chris Cleave wrote their scripts. . . . He has made the stakes as high as possible. . . .If medals were given for writing scenes of anguished decision-making, Cleave would have as many golds as Eric Heiden.”The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“Not only is Chris Cleave’s latest installment wrought with ingenious similes and fast-paced wit (readers of Little Bee, you know what we mean), but the story of a complicated friendship between two Olympic bikers serves as highbrow pregame to the London events.”—DailyCandy.com

“There is something in [Chris Cleave’s] books that is good and hopeful without being trite or overly simple. . . . Cleave writes about moral complexity without arrogance or pretense.”—About.com

“Cleave’s novels are both timeless and timely, addressing issues and questions that are sociallyand often morallyrelevant . . . Gold is an emotional ride through the world of professional cycling.”—NewCaananNews.com

“The word-of-mouth buzz on this book is huge—advance readers love it. Cleave draws rich, deeply rendered characters and knows how to invest his plots with emotion and drama.”The Hollywood Reporter (4 out of 4 stars)

Gold is full of surprises. . . . Like the cyclists it chronicles, it turns pretty effortlessly and it’s worth the ride.”—SeacoastOnline.com

“Cleave has the extremely rare power of making you smile with lively language and clever observations while he is thoroughly, irreparably breaking your heart.”Newsday (NY)

“In British novelist Chris Cleave’s new novel, Gold, the cloistered world of Olympic-level cycling in England forms the backdrop for a gripping story about what happens when winning is no longer everything. . . . There is plenty of built-in drama with this setup, but Gold shoots for something more meaningful. Cleave’s story is not just an exploration of the strategic choices people make to achieve victory; it’s also about the confounding calculations they make for happiness and redemption in everyday life.”Seattle Times

Gold is timely—obviously so, but the story doesn’t ride on the upcoming Games for effect. This is a story of competitiveness and its outcomes, sacrifices as well as rewards. Cleave lets his characters show the reader how their particular traits of character shape their actions and, ultimately, their lives.”Denver Post

“Bound to pull readers in until the breathtaking finale . . . Cleave masterfully presents a tale that combines love and the sacrifices families make against the unforgiving world of athletics in a heartwarming and profound way.”Deseret News

“In Gold, as with his previous work, Cleave writes with tremendous heart, displaying a keen eye for life’s absurdities, sorrows, and triumphs. The story is riveting, the characters unforgettable. Gold has everything you could ask for in a story: adrenaline-soaked racing, wretchedly human decisions, laugh-out-loud moments and quietly heartbreaking ones.”Bookpage

“Perfectly timed and engaging . . . Cleave, the English writer whose Incendiary and Little Bee likewise burrowed inside their female protagonists' heads with empathy and insight . . . describes this world astutely, keenly.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Cleave's blow-by-blow descriptions of the races are as exciting and rapidly paced as the real thing. . . . Gold is a tale of two friends confined by the rarefied parameters world-class athletes must live in, and can't help but strain against. Their sacrifices are very different, yet they are bound by shared experience, secrets and love. Kate represents who most of us are, while Zoe is who we'd like to be, if only for a day.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Chris Cleave is a writer who goes for your throat and doesn't let go. . . . The rivalry that powers the book is the competition between the closely matched Kate and Zoe, which takes place on and off the course. That they also develop a friendship, uneasy and fraught but still real, is a testament to Kate's generosity, as well as Cleave's talent as a writer. He writes women, particularly wounded women, with great empathy and skill.”—The Oregonian

“Moving and compelling . . . . The millions of readers of Little Bee can attest that despite the delicacy of his prose, Cleave doesn't deal in half measures or subtle strokes—he goes straight for the heartstrings. Every page of Gold is drenched with an urgency of feeling that generates the same emotional pleasure as a great moment in sports, where we simultaneously witness triumph and failure in the starkest, most dramatic terms. . . . Gold will likely resonate most with readers for the way it unveils the ordinariness surrounding the extraordinary.” —Nashville Scene

“Novels about sport are notoriously hard to pull off . . . Gold, Chris Cleave’s third novel, is a skillful demonstration of the form. . . . This is no niche book for aficionados looking for a brief summer distraction. Instead, cycling is the backdrop for a deeper exploration of the struggle between the physical and the psychological . . . Gold works as a novel because Mr. Cleave manages to make the reader care about what it takes to win—or even to take part. . . . The small details speak loudly. . . . Cleave knows what makes a good story. Here, his concern is not with macho physicality or crossing a line, but with the endless and enduring human endeavors: love, death and what is left when hopes and dreams are crushed or fulfilled. A book to savor long after the Olympic games are over.”—The Economist

“[Cleave's] descriptions of riding fast, world's-fastest fast, are breathtaking.” —Los Angeles Times

“Cleave is excellent on the technical details of the athletic life which, along with its physical and mental demands, requires further personal sacrifices, both of privacy and happy relationships. . . . This book overflows with astute perceptions. One of the most moving is the parallel drawn between the athletes' need to live in the present . . . and the more devastating necessity for the parents of a sick child to not consider the horrors the future may bring.”—Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“Cleave writes of the physical experience of cycling at top speed with clarity and vigor. . . . A gripping tale with many surprising turns on the way to its photo-finish climax.”Dallas Morning News

“Readers of Little Bee, Cleave’s previous novel, will remember his gift with turning a phrase. . . . Those weary of light summer reading (Hello, Fifty Shades) will also relish Cleave’s rich descriptions.”Louisville Courier-Journal

More About the Author

Chris Cleave was born in London and spent his early years in Cameroon. He studied Experimental Psychology at Balliol College, Oxford. His debut novel, Incendiary, won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and is now a feature film. His second novel, Little Bee, is an international bestseller with over 2 million copies in print. He lives in London with his wife and three children. Chris Cleave enjoys dialogue with his readers and invites all comers to introduce themselves on Twitter; he can be found at twitter.com/chriscleave or on his website at chriscleave.com

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Customer Reviews

Gold is the story of longtime rivals/friends Kate and Zoe striving toward cycling Gold at the London Olympics.
Carol M
Too much drama, characters that were hard to enjoy reading about, and a plot that was tied up in a way that felt very false.
K. Eckert
This story is full of very human characters, strong narrative, and a clever wit which makes it an easy page turner.
Caleb E. Shoemaker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reviewers who have read LITTLE BEE will feel compelled to compare the two books, not in subject matter, but in caliber or merit. LITTLE BEE was a powerful, keen, fresh, and original story that remains one of my most esteemed of 2009. GOLD has a similar architectural structure and captive writing style (but is in third person rather than first). The breaks within chapters headed in bold font are familiar, the soaring, poetic, exquisite metaphors and fluent writing resonates, and a young girl engrossed in Star Wars in order to cope (vs a young boy immersed in Batman in LITTLE BEE). However, GOLD's story, while thematically ripe, is prosaic, as well as so implausible at its heart that I lamented at the reductive and ultimately predictable turns of events.

Kate and Zoe have been best friends for 15 years--they met when they were 19, as Olympic contenders in cycling, and now they are 32, both going for the Gold again, although Zoe has several from previous Olympics in Athens and Beijing, as well as National victories. Kate is married to Jack, same age, same historical introduction (all three met simultaneously), another Gold champ, and they have a daughter, Sophie, who is 8, and has leukemia. She was first diagnosed four years ago, but after the first treatment, had been in remission until now.

****WARNING: MAJOR SPOILER(S) ALERT.***** This is my first review that requires a spoiler alert, but it felt necessary. So, here goes. For those who have already read the book, or don't plan to, here are the reasons I can't believe the thrust of the narrative:

Cleave attempts to tacitly portray Zoe with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) due to the sudden, accidental death of her brother, Adam, when they were bicycling as kids. She feels responsible, and has buried her emotions.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Well, not if you are Zoe Castle or Kate Argall, the two longtime friends/rivals who must face off for the chance to go for a gold medal in cycling at the London Olympics. Chris Cleave has crafted his novel around two characters who couldn't be more different -- when the book begins, Kate is missing the Athens Olympics to stay in London with her infant daughter, while Zoe grabs gold -- and yet who both are passionately competitive. This, Cleave's third novel, deals with a far more subtle kind of conflict than the violence at the heart of both Incendiary: A Novel (Book Club Readers Edition) and Little Bee: A Novel; what is at stake here isn't survival, but rather what kind of lives Zoe and Kate will live, as well as the lives that they have lived to this point.

Their rivalry isn't just about them. Tom, their coach -- who lost out on his own medal decades ago by one-tenth of a second -- recognizes that both women are driven and both are equally talented. Jack, Kate's husband, knows how Zoe can be relentless in pursuing what she wants. And then there is Sophie Argall: 8 years old, she is battling leukaemia and takes refuge from ugly reality in a fantastical world where she joins the rebels of Star Wars to fight the evil Empire -- that is, when she isn't reacting to chemo by vomiting into a model of Han Solo's spaceship in order to avoid alerting her parents to her nausea. Her goal is to fool them into being happy, one minute or one hour at a time, so that she isn't surrounded by anxiety.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By susannah on August 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
SPOILERS.....................SPOILERS............................SPOILERS

This is a well crafted book about people I just can't understand or relate to in any way. Mechanically, the only problem was with the book jumping from time period to time period too often, and not clearly. Another poster mentioned that the reader will "fall in love" with all of these people. I not only didn't fall in love with all of them, I don't know if I would even want to KNOW them. The exception is Sophie, who I did fall in love with. What a strong, funny, gutsy, loving girl. I wish they never would let Zoe anywhere near her.

WHAT parent of a critically ill child, in reality, would even for one second be giving training and qualifying for the Olympics one thought? Kate's selfishness was pretty mind boggling. Jack was a good father but had some pretty severe character flaws himself. He seemed to have no problem with cheating on Kate and seeing how Zoe would hurt Kate, and yet they all just went on their merry way together. At one point Kate worried about what Zoe would "do to them," as though they were defenseless victims. I guess they were since neither of them ever stood up to her and forced her to take responsibility for her actions, They just patted her back as she said "sorry, sorry, sorry." "Sorry" wouldn't cut it with me. I couldn't believe the choice Jack made for Kate the end of the book. Are these people insane?

Then Zoe. I didn't care at all what supposedly had affected her so traumatically but I do know that she was essentially a monster, who would do ANYTHING to win, and win again and again, and to take vengeance on anyone, namely Kate, she felt was ahead of her.
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