Chris Cleave is a gorgeous writer. His metaphors are strong without being overkill, his prose honest and heartwrenching. He creates characters who you feel like you've known all your life. And, while you will want to read his books slowly so as to savor them, you'll burn through them in a day only to turn back to the first page and start again.
The thing that amazes me so much about Cleave is his ability to write such believable female characters. His insight into female friendships is startling. Like Little Bee
before it, Gold
depicts two women who are both strikingly different and impossibly similar; in this instance, they are literally pit against each other, acting not only as foils but as rivals. The hardest part of reading this book is that you will love both Kate and Zoe. You will want to root for them both when you know that only one can win.
An anecdote that illustrates how invested I became: I knew next to nothing about competitive cycling before reading this book and have next to no interest in watching the Olympics. Yet when competitive cycling and the velodrome came up in a conversation while I was reading the book, my heart jumped and my first thought was, "I'll have to tell my friends that I was just talking about their sport!" ...Except that my "friends" were characters in this novel, as no one in my life rides competitively.
Other reviews have accused the plot of being contrived or schmaltzy, which was something I grappled with both at the end of this novel and at the end of Little Bee
, which I also loved. Ultimately, however, the actual plot events are much less important than the character journeys, and I could care less if the events aren't always realistic. Instead, I delighted in the characters' triumphs and wept at their failures and heartbreaks.
There were lots of tears while reading this book. Chris Cleave
A-bombs my soul over and over again, and I keep coming back for more.
Love, love, love.