GOLD by Chris Cleave
Kirkus Star


Email this review


After the enormous popular success of his second novel (Little Bee, 2009, etc.), British author Cleave turns to the world of Olympic speed cyclists to explore the shifting sands of ambition, loyalty and love.

Tom, who just barely missed his own medal in 1968, is coaching Kate and Zoe to represent Britain at the 2012 Olympics, which the 32-year-old women know will be their last. They are best friends but fierce rivals. Zoe, who already has won four Olympic golds, lives only to race and will do anything, including sacrifice friends, ethics and her own emotional needs, to come in first. Though technically as fast, Kate is a perpetual runner -up, and compared to Zoe, she seems almost soft; her willingness to put family needs first has caused her to pass up two previous Olympic competitions. And then there is Jack, who has his own Olympic golds. He met Zoe and Kate when the three were stars in a program Tom ran to train Britain’s most talented adolescent cycling prospects. Jack was the sexy boy down from Scotland and obviously bound for glory. Although he and Zoe shared a brief, highly charged and emotionally fraught affair, Kate was the one he fell in love with and married. Their little girl, Sophie, is the novel’s real heart. Cleave has a gift for portraying difficult children who pull every heartstring. Battling leukemia and obsessed with Star Wars, Sophie furtively watches her parents’ reactions to her illness. Kate both embraces and resents that she is the one who must make the sacrifices for Sophie, while Jack’s commitment to his wife and daughter is deeper, if more complex, than Kate recognizes. Meanwhile, emotionally stunted Zoe is facing a personal crisis of her own, both public and private. Then higher-ups change the rules, and father-figure Tom must choose whether Kate or Zoe is going to the Olympics.

In weaker hands this would seem a bit contrived, but Cleave knows how to captivate with rich characters and nimble plotting.

Pub Date: July 10th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-7272-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2012


MysteryHELL OR HIGH WATER by Joy Castro
by Joy Castro
FictionGOLD by Chris Cleave
by Chris Cleave
MysteryBROKEN HARBOR by Tana French
by Tana French
FictionADVENT by James Treadwell
by James Treadwell
Kirkus Interview
Chris Cleave
June 14, 2016

In bestseller Chris Cleave’s latest novel Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, it’s London, 1939. The day war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up. Tom Shaw decides to ignore the war—until he learns his roommate Alistair Heath has unexpectedly enlisted. Then the conflict can no longer be avoided. Young, bright, and brave, Mary is certain she’d be a marvelous spy. When she is—bewilderingly—made a teacher, she finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget. Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary. And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love, as well as war, that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams. “Among all the recent fictions about the war, Cleave’s miniseries of a novel is a surprising standout,” our reviewer writes, “with irresistibly engaging characters who sharply illuminate issues of class, race, and wartime morality.” View video >


by Chris Cleave
FictionLITTLE BEE by Chris Cleave
by Chris Cleave
FictionINCENDIARY by Chris Cleave
by Chris Cleave


FictionLITTLE BEE by Chris Cleave
by Chris Cleave
IndieTHE GAMES by Claire Carver-Dias
by Claire Carver-Dias
FictionTHE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach
by Chad Harbach
FictionINCENDIARY by Chris Cleave
by Chris Cleave