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.
Last year, a new literary award was announced – an Australian award for female writers. There has been a ton of discussion on the position of female writers in the world, and whether a prize for women only is warranted. If you want to read more about this, do some internet searching. My position is yes, for a whole bunch of reasons, I’m not going to go into it here because I don’t want to. What I want to do is say yay for writing, yay for writing by Australians, yay for writing by Australian females. Here are the winners and short-listed books for the last two years, the most recent only announced on Tuesday.
The winner for 2014 was The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Swan Book by Alexis Wright
Boy, Lost by Kristina Olsson
The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane
Night Games by Anna Krien
The winner for 2013 was Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson
Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy
Questions of Travel by Michelle De Kretser
The Burial by Courtney Collins
Rose and Lissa have fought off the threat in the first novel, and now are needing to focus on their lives. However, when the Moroi Royalty start being killed by packs of Strogli working in conjunction with humans, the way their society is structure needs to be challenged.
It’s violent and gory, but always appropriate to the world created. I continue to like the characters more and more, and the will-they-won’t-they romance with Dimitri is fascinating. I found some elements a bit repetitive and wanted to get straight to the action, but sometimes you need to get through the boring (but important for character and story development) self-reflection to get to the good and exciting action. Awesome, I’m totally looking forward to reading more.
This book was published as Little Bee in the US and Canada.
Little Bee is a Nigerian refugee living in a detention centre in Britain. When she manages to get free, she goes to the house of Sarah and Andrew, a couple she met a couple of years prior in her home land, where they were on holiday. There was a violent incident that involved all three and Little Bee’s sister. Andrew, feeling guilt over his inaction in the situation, has just committed suicide, so when Little Bee arrives, Sarah is forced yet again to confront the past. This is made even more difficult as she is caring for her four-year-old son and continuing an affair.
Chris Cleave just kills me with his writing. Sometimes, he takes his books places that I don’t want to go, but you can’t give up. If you are feint-hearted, this won’t be a book for you, but push yourself. Read it, be shocked and scared and horrified. Let it change you.