Zoe, Jack, and Kate have known each other since they were nineteen and were recruited to compete at the national level in track cycling – a sport that demands intense focus, blinding exertion, and an unwavering attention to drawing both a physical and psychological edge over equally skilled rivals, all of whom are fighting for the last one tenth of a second that could mean the difference between a gold medal, and no medal at all.
Of the three, Zoe has enjoyed the most success, while Kate sacrificed two Olympic Games to raise her daughter, Sophie. Jack Argall, Sophie’s dad, has fought valiantly to maintain his athletic career and be an attentive father and husband, but although he has the most raw talent of any of the three, he has faltered in the past and has everything to prove in his final chance at the Olympics. At 32 years old, this is the last time Jack will compete. It is also the last time Kate and Zoe will compete – against each other.
Eight-year-old Sophie Argall dreams of the Death Star and of battling alongside Han Solo and Chewbacca as the evil white blood cells ravage her personal solar system. Sophie is experiencing a recurrence of the leukemia that nearly killed her three years ago, just as her parents were preparing for the Beijing Summer Games. She doesn’t want to stand in the way of her mum and dad’s olympic dreams, but each day, the dark forces of the universe seem to be conspiring against her. Jack and Kate know their daughter is fragile, but at the height of their frenzied months of training, do they see just how swiftly things could take a turn for the worse?
Intense, aloof Zoe has always hovered on the periphery of real human companionship, and her compulsive need to win at any cost has more than once threatened her friendship with Jack and Kate – and her own sanity. Will she allow her obsession, and the slight advantage she has over two harried, anguished parents, to completely sever the bond they have shared for over a decade?
Echoing the adrenaline-fueled rush of a race around the Velodrome track, Gold is a triumph of superbly paced, heart-in-throat storytelling. Weaving seamlessly amidst risk, sacrifice, danger, defeat, and victory, like the slimmest tires on the bicycles powered by the most elite athletes in the world, Chris Cleave’s latest novel is a sensational, pulse-pounding examination of the values that lie at the heart of our most intimate relationships, and the choices we make when lives are at stake and everything is on the line.