Have your tissues ready before you read Chris Cleave's new novel, Gold. At first glance it just seems like a story about two women who are best friends and long time rivals in the world of British cycling, but add a child with cancer and a few deep dark secrets and you'll be racing through this book through a patina of tears and gasps. Okay, that sounded lame. I realize it seems like I'm overstating this, but I really was crying through the last quarter of this book. I also found myself pushing to read faster so I could find out what happens (Ah, just like a bicycle race! Clever, Mr. Cleave!).
Chris Cleave's previous novel, Little Bee, was a huge critical success but I was ambivalent about it. I thought it seemed a little inauthentic, like Chris Cleave doesn't really know what it's like to be an African refugee woman (but, then, it's not like I do either). With Gold, however, I believed that the author not only knew what it was like to train as an Olympic athlete, he also knew what it was like to have a child with cancer, and to be a child with cancer for that matter. In his author's note he mentions a lot of research prior to writing this novel, and it shows. The novel felt real enough that I had to go check on my own daughter several times as she slept just to reassure myself that she was not suffering like the characters in this story.
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Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.