A Spoke in the Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt
Publication Date: May 5th 2018
Read Date: June 22 2018
Genre: Fiction / Sport-Cycling / Contemporary
The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.
The first thing she saw was the doper.
Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it. Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done. But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.
Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…
That blurb doesn’t speak much about book except that it revolves around road cycling and so it was but there was more to the book. Life literally put spoke in character’s life in this book. It was about coping with defamation, disability, and unfinished dreams; taking accountability of actions; consequences of pushing oneself beyond limits; and moving on in life.
Ben– ex-cyclist, defamed as doper, is trying to start new life in new city with new job leaving behind his cycling career and embracement but that follows him back to this new city. Ben was really great guy, nice at heart, and ethical. I know it doesn’t sound like that looking at blurb but he truly was. I loved his honesty with his new job and new tenants- Polly and Vicki and the way he took accountability of his mistakes. His guilt and emotions felt real.
Polly– She was chronically ill and mostly have to depend on her wheelchair. Because of her illness she had to leave her studies she was pursuing to be doctor. She grumpy at first but as I got to know her more, I seriously admired her. She was clever, smart, straightforward and great friend. I loved the way she was coping with her own problems.
Vicki– was workaholic, cycling fan, and was such sweetheart. She offered Ben to share rent and live with her and Polly when all the world was out judging him for what he did. She was open-minded, understanding, and nicest friend. I loved her till the end of the book.
I loved these 3 characters of the book. Different from each other, having their own problems and living under one roof. Sharing rent and living together literally changed their lives.
I admit I never watched cycling sport nor I’m big fan of it. But I liked riding bicycle in childhood. I definitely agree with Ben you never forget how to ride bike once you were on it. Ah, after reading this book I again want to ride one.
It was character driven fiction, narrated by Ben, telling his story and emotions very captivating way. His accounts on what happened and why he was banned from cycling and why he didn’t fight it showed the guilt and accountability of his action even though it was obvious to him there was something amiss there. What surprised me was importance of Polly and Vicki in the story that I could not guess from the blurb. I expected it to be solely around Ben’s life but author nicely absorbed Polly and Vicki’s life with Ben’s.
I liked his development from blaming himself for everything and the way he let it go and how Polly and Vicki helped him to understand what he really wants and need to do. His discussion with Polly about racing, opinions and expectations of fans, how athletes and players push themselves beyond their limits to put up with demands and entertainment to the extent that can damage their health and how one mistakes can destroy all their work was thought-provoking. That was the best part of the book. Another part I loved was the way author displayed Polly’s emotions, problems she faces because of illness mostly in public and how people jumped to conclusions and can be opinionated towards disabled person was utterly shocking. It showed general and usual social issues, not just disabled person faces it but it happens to all of us.
I wonder why characters didn’t figure out who burgled their house! I can put my guesses there, though there wasn’t any proof, but I wish author have made that factor a basis for Polly’s decision for her relationship. Concept was great. It was easy to read and thought provoking with nice message that readers want to take from the book. There were not big turns and twist but definitely engaging and cozy read. I loved the end and how things settled at the end.
Overall, it was – great book that you can read in one sitting- thought provoking, engaging and cozy fiction. I definitely recommend this book.
Kathleen Jowitt was born in Winchester, UK, and grew up deep in the Welsh Marches and, subsequently, on the Isle of Wight. After completing her undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Exeter she moved to Guildford and found herself working for a major trade union. She now lives in Cambridge, works in London, and writes on the train.
Her first novel, Speak Its Name, was the first self-published book ever to be shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize.
Social Media Links
Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kathleen-Jowitt/e/B01CDJN1HE/
Buy Link: Amazon.in / Amazon.com
*** Note: I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. many thanks to author for giving me a chance to read this great book. ****
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