With the London Olympics in full swing on my doorstep, it seemed appropriate to read a novel about the lives of Olympic athletes. Chris Cleave does a great job of allowing the reader to not only be a fly on the wall, but also to enter the very psyche of Olympic cyclists. The velodrome is scary – watch this hilarious but instructive Rick Mercer Report which gives a glimpse into how hard this sport is! Imagine riding a bike without brakes on a steep incline, going round and round, much less racing on one!
The competition is not alone one of strength and speed, but it is deeply psychological and involves a considerable amount of strategy. The stakes are high. A small miscalculation can bring tragic results to years of hard training. And so with life and relationships.
Cleave begins the story quite simply with Zoe and Kate, Olympic hopefuls, rival cyclists, but also good friends. Tom and Kate have a daughter Sophie suffering from leukaemia. As the story progresses and clever twists of plot are revealed, the intensity builds and the stakes for all of the characters increase. I was riveted.
Cleave set out to offer a story dealing with the extremity of sickness and health, and while Olympic gold is a great thing to achieve, he wants to send the message that there is other gold in human experience as well. There is a short 2 min video interview with the author on his website which is worth watching.
Chris Cleave Website