A Spoke in the Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt*
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…
When I received the PR for this book I was intrigued and drawn to the idea of second chances and redemption. Once I got stuck into the book, however, it was a different theme which kept me hooked: that of having your whole life mapped out and having it all taken away. This was the case for both Ben and Polly, a professional cyclist and medical student respectively. Ben’s downfall was self-inflicted but Polly’s was the result of a chronic illness, something which leads each to make assumptions about the other but, ultimately, allows them to form an unlikely friendship.
I was also really interested in the portrayal of disability and mental health. Ben and Polly both had their lives changed forever in a moment but it goes to show that these moments don’t have to define you and it’s how you learn to deal with them that matters.
I’m interested to read Kathleen’s previous novel, the award-winning Speak Its Name, and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for future releases.
About the author
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 (awarded to the best debut novel by an author under 35).
*I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes and all thoughts are my own.
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