Chris Cleave is coming to Madison this week
Chris Cleave is a very versatile author, with three very different novels: Incendiary about a terrorist attack in London, Little Bee which is set mostly in Nigeria, and now his latest book, Gold which is set in England and is about two female Olympic bicyclists who compete in the velodrome. They are very highly trained athletes who compete at levels that seem almost incomprehensible.
Zoe and Kate met at age nineteen when they were both part of the national training team for track cycling. They are now in their early 30's and are busy training for their final Olympic competition in London in 2012. Theirs is a rather uneasy and suspicious friendship because while they have cycling in common, both fiercely competitive.
Kate has an eight-year-old daughter Sophie who is undergoing treatment for leukemia. Because Sophie has been ill, Kate dropped out of competition for the last 2 Olympics, even though she had trained for them. Zoe on the other hand competed in both and won medals. Now, as Sophie is undergoing chemotherapy and Kate is being pulled in several directions, Kate is again training along with Zoe. Like Kate, Zoe is intensely motivated. She has become famous since her victories in the past Olympics but she is deeply troubled. She has never reconciled herself to the death of younger brother. Both are working hard for their Olympic return when it is announced that the IOC will only allow one athlete from each country. Their coach quickly devises a method to decide who will represent England.
There are multipe plot threads in this readable and entertaining book: the young girl with a serious illness and what she hides from her parents, the behind the scenes look at the training and life of serious athletes, the jealousy and envy and the friendship of the two women. This relatively short book showcases them all very well and even includes some surprises.
You have a chance to meet the author this week. Chris Cleave will be speaking at A Room of One's Own Bookstore On October 5th at 6:30.