Zoe and Kate are professional cyclists who have been competing since they were teenagers. They share a coach, Tom, who coaches them both on and off the track. And then there’s Jack, Kate’s husband, also a professional cyclist. After Kate missed the Athens Olympics to raise their child, Sophie, the story skips to about eight years later. All three adults are training for the London Olympics, and Sophie is being treated for Leukemia. Bit by bit, their long and entwined histories are revealed and several life-changing decisions are made.
The story is told with many jumps to different times in the past, allowing the reader to make certain assumptions that are later either challenged or confirmed. I quite liked the story overall, however it did not fill me with the huge emotional leaps that I felt reading both of Chris Cleave’s other books, Incendiary and Little Bee. Perhaps that is because of the subject matter; while I find reading about passion and obsession interesting, I don’t find sport interesting, regardless of how magnificently the physical sensations of competitive cycling were described. I persisted because I enjoy his writing and the story is compelling enough that I needed to know what happened. And then, suddenly, about three-quarters through the book, I got my second wind. I couldn’t put it down, and gave up sleep and work to get it finished. Checking the Chris Cleave website, there is another book finished and hopefully it won’t be too far away. I most certainly will read it, although I hope it’s not about sport.