'Sport is so packed with tension and surprise that when authors or scriptwriters use it as the basis for fictional drama I always end up thinking the real thing is preferable by far. Gold is the exception. Set in the world of elite track cycling Chris Cleave's novel follows the ambitions of three very different cyclists with Olympic dreams. He captures the intensity of the sport with aplomb and if you have doubts about whether romance could flourish with the ferocity it does here then, well, look at Laura Trott and Jason Kenny, Team GB gold medalists, who made the front pages with that kiss'
A thrilling and quite literally heart-pounding story... You'll never look at an Olympic champion in quite the same way again.
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 wait has been worth it . . . As with all Cleave's work, GOLD probes the limit of what its protagonists will do to identify and protect what they really cherish. And that, in Cleave's confident hands, truly is exhilarating.
GOLD is a very good novel . . . strikingly well written . . . it 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 on to their Kindle, you'll have a pretty good idea what they're reading.
Novels about sport are notoriously hard to pull off . . . GOLD , Chris Cleave's third novel, is a skilful 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 endeavours: love, death and what is left when hopes and dreams are crushed or fulfilled. A book to savour long after the Olympic games are over.
'Cleave does a magnificent job of exploring the emotional terrain that top athletes must travel in order to become champions [...] Cleave has undoubtedly put in the hours where research is concerned, as the technicalities and the (actual) rule change that provides one of the novel's bigger twists gleam with authenticity'.
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.
The race scenes have true visceral intensity, leaving the reader feeling as breathless as a cyclist. From start to finish, this is a truly Olympic-level literary achievement.
If there's one Olympic-themed novel you ought to read this summer it's Chris Cleave's well-imagined and researched look at just what it takes to compete at the highest level.
Extremely moving . . . It really has that same thing as The Other Hand and Incendiary, where you feel a bit lonely and annoyed until someone else you know has read it and you can discuss it with them . . . I really loved it and I do think it's one of those books that you want to talk to people about . . . no one will be able to read it then put it down with a gentle sigh. They will be pressing it on people.
With its tightly plotted twists and turns this is a novel of extremes - of the heights a body can reach in pursuit of Olympic cycling gold, and of what the heart can endure in the face of love, parenthood and an ill child. Cleave's writing is nothing short of poetic and this has to be our (very early) tip for the best book of 2012.
The Olympics are almost upon us and if like me you are given to wondering whether it's possible to be a superhuman athlete and a simple human being, GOLD is here to help . . . 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 . . . Cleave artfully interleaves moments of high-tensile emotion with no less taut descriptions of action on the track . . . I don't know about Kate and Zoe but Chris Cleave deserves a medal.
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.
If you are looking for a book to read to avoid the brouhaha of the Olympics this year but still want to get a taste of what all the fuss is about, this would be a superb choice . . . Cleave's style is highly readable, with plenty of humour and some wry similes and metaphors . . . It would take a cold heart not to be moved at some point in this book.
Compelling, dramatic and . . . pure gold.
Compelling and heart-wrenching.
GOLD is immensely enjoyable . . . The writing is energetic and urgent, and, far from being geeky, the descriptions of bike racing are among the most poetic passages. Best of all are the powerful, dark moments where we glimpse the cost of obsession with something as painful as cycling.
A riveting read because at the heart of it is the unseen, private world of our greatest athletes.
Underpinning their stories is poignant tragedy, fierce ambition, hope, failure and a glorious twist in the tale that will take your breath away. I tore through the pages with such rabid abandon that, by the time I looked up again, it was dark outside.
If you've read Chris Cleave's earlier novels you'll know how well he wraps searing social commentary in a gripping and engaging narrative. In GOLD he focuses his insightful gaze on the world of Olympic-level speed cycling . . . It's the perfect counterpoint to all the Olympic mania - but it's one for sports fans too.
A gloriously fast-paced romp of a sporting novel that's a must-read in this Olympic year. Thrilling and deeply touching, it'll have you sobbing.
Gold is an emotional rollercoaster ride as it explores what drives people to succeed and what they choose to sacrifice for success.
This bestseller-bound, tightly told story is unusually compelling . . . Cleave is that rare creature -- an Oxford graduate with an emotional IQ of Mensa proportions. Add some hard research to give his characters credibility and you have a dream team of story-telling ingredients.
'It is a timely work of fiction, but Cleave is meticulous in his research'