The book: “Gold”
The author: Chris Cleave
The publishing info: Simon & Shuster, 336 pages, $27
The background: We were enticed by a short review in a recent Sports Illustrated that ended: “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.”
Cleave’s third novel, following up on the New York Times best-seller “Little Bee,” is focused on 32-year-old British cyclists Zoe Castle and Kate Meadows, who have been friends and rivals for 13 years and go into their final Olympics competition – but the IOC says only one will be eligible.
Kate is married to fellow racer, Jack Argall, and they have an 8-year-old daughter, Sophie, battling leukemia.
Sacrifices and determination are the underlying thread to how this reaches its poetic climax.
Other reviews of it we’ve come across have been mixed. Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum gave it a “C+” because “the drama . . . is so swollen, adn the writing so pumped up with ‘style,’ that the sentences tehmselves begin to get in the way of the story’s momentum — their showiness become an aerodynamic drag.’ Also, using a child’s bout with leukemia as a “tear-jerking distraction” didn’t go over well. (review linked here)
In Sunday’s Los Angeles Times’ book review section, Carolyn Kellogg wrote that part of the problem is that Cleave “doesn’t have enough characters to fill his stage . . . it’s unusual for a novel of this size to have such a scarcity of texture.” (review linked here).
Yet, if covers make a difference, Cleave’s books always make for some fine art posters.