We Begin Our Ascent by Joe Mungo Reed

We Begin Our Ascent

Sol and Liz are a couple on the cusp. He’s a professional cyclist in the Tour de France, a workhorse but not yet a star. She’s a geneticist on the brink of a major discovery, either that or a loss of funding. They’ve just welcomed their first child into the world, and their bright future lies just before them—if only they can reach out and grab it.But as Liz’s research slows, as Sol starts doping, their dreams grow murkier and the risks...

Details We Begin Our Ascent

TitleWe Begin Our Ascent
Release DateJun 19th, 2018
PublisherSimon Schuster
GenreFiction, Sports and Games, Sports, Literary Fiction, Cycling

Reviews We Begin Our Ascent

  • Elyse Walters
    “You’re a beast”, I said. “You’re a monster”. “What?”“Riding like that after a week of training camp”. “Oh”.“ I love it”, he said. “ I love all of it”. “I like the smell of grease”“That’s not it”, he said...“I like feeling strong in a race”....“The sense that you have more strength than others”...“No, he said. “That’s not it. The thing itself”. “The riding”.“You love riding? I said....
  • Dianne
    This is excellent! Really, really good debut novel about a professional cyclist on the Tour de France. Sol is married to a geneticist, Liz, who is working on an important research project. They have an infant son, Barry, who they call “B.” Both Sol and Liz are high achievers; driven, confident, almost smug in their little cocoon of ambition. In the midst of the Tour, Sol’s Tour team manager, Rafael, introduces doping and blood transfusions ...
  • Jill
    Years ago, according to one character in this fine book, a doctor wrote about a man riding three horses at a circus. “He said it was important not because of what the man was doing but because it increased our sense of human capabilities.”For Sol, a professional cyclist racing in the Tour de France, the sport is not about individual winning. His duty is to “get our team leader, Fabrice, across the twenty-one stages of this tour in as little...
  • Gumble's Yard
    I have done speeches at sporting events .... Whoever introduces me always says that I the Tour is the hardest sporting contest in the world. I am just an artifact, proof that it is done by men. I am something it has happened to, like a blot from a disintegrating spacecraft and recovered from a cornfield after the event, to prove that all that motion and brutality really existed. I accept this perspective, because this nobles this activity, dignif...
  • Kasa Cotugno
    This is a book about a sport that is wildly popular when there is big news about it and when the Tour de France is running, but unless you are a fan, there is much to know that goes on behind the scenes. I find it amazing that Reed himself is not a competitive rider, his insider knowledge is vast. I've only read one other book about cycling, Gold by Chris Cleve, but that was more character study and was about a different version of the sport. Her...
  • Dennise Pendergrass
    DNF at 50%. I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this book through Goodreads. It takes a lot for me to DNF a book, this is actually the first book in 18 months that I disliked so much I refused to push through.The premise sounded very interesting to me, even if I am not a fan of sports... any sports. A story about doping, and the family of the athlete being involved etc. was fascinating. I don't exactly know what I was expecting, but it was defini...
  • Katie B
    Sol has been a professional cyclist for years but has never achieved any real fame or fortune. His wife, Liz, a geneticist, and their son, Barry, are back home in England while Sol is busy trying to help his teammate, Fabrice, win the Tour De France. In a sport in which some people are willing to cheat their way to victory, Sol is forced to decide what he is willing to risk to get to the top.For a decent portion of the book, I wasn't really feeli...
  • Bonnie Brody
    Joe Mungo Reed has written a debut novel that had me in its grips from the first chapter. It deals with professional bicycling, focusing on the people and competition in a race not unlike the Tour de France. It is also about a marriage, one that is fairly new and finding its set-point with the birth of a baby boy. Sol is a professional rider and is given to obsession and dedication. He must spend weeks apart from his wife Liz and his son Barry, w...
  • Bandit
    This one grabbed my attention with its cover, it’s an awesome cover. But then it also had such accolades from well known names, most auspicious for a debut, so why not. It actually turned out quite a good read. Thing is though I don’t like competitive sports, I don’t get the appeal, can’t relate to the sort of maddening dedication it requires or understand the singlemindedness it takes just to get to the finish line before the other guy. ...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    This philosophical and compelling novel about competition, marriage and ambition was perfect Tour de France inspired reading. Like most novels about sport it’s not really about the Tour or competitive cycling and I loved the way Reed used cycling teamwork strategies to interrogate human nature and relationships. The writing here is beautiful – truly glorious prose styling. Thanks to @cbdcycles for letting me take this pic with such a stunning...
  • Jessica Sullivan
    “There should be a word for the moment at which one realizes what a task truly entails, comes to see how little one has really understood what is required to reach a goal.”I don’t think I can adequately convey how little I care about the topic of this book—and how much I loved it regardless. Like many novels that are ostensibly about one thing but are actually about something much deeper, this isn’t so much about bicycle racing as it is...
  • Dax
    The writing fits my pallet, the characters are fun and the racing descriptions are well done. Liz and Sol’s relationship felt forced, but that’s the only negative I can come up with. Nice use of metaphors to look at human drive and knowing when you’ve reached too far. And the tie-in between the title and the ending was very impressive. My man Mungo has skills: I will keep an eye out for him. I mean, if Saunders is a fan he must be pretty go...
  • Ace Boggess
    Some good writing, detailed insights, crisp dialogue. Sadly, if you're not a fan of the Tour de France, not even those positives can make the sport interesting. I'm sure there are people who will love this book, but I found it tedious. Pass.
  • Ron S
    An impressive debut about a professional cyclist, marriage, masculinity and loyalty. Reed's prose has the sort of economy most authors aren't able to achieve after a lifetime. Just as results vary for cyclists that dope, not everyone that gets an MFA from Syracuse under the tutelage of masters like George Saunders and Mary Kaar graduate able to write brilliantly, but it's certainly worked for Mr. Reed.
  • Kathleen Gray
    I admit to being a bit skeptical when I started this but - WOW. This is a fascinating novel about bicycle racing, ambition, teamwork, and life in general. The Tour de France has played in the background of my consciousness but except for what I learned years ago from watching the movie Breaking Away, I really know very little about the sport. Reed has written an incredibly enlightening novel, with a sympathetic hero in Sol. Sol's been on the circ...
  • Beth Loflin
    I received this book as an ARC. I am not a sports book reader, so I was skeptical. I really enjoyed reading this. Something I don’t normally read, as well as eye opening into a world I am very unfamiliar with. Quick read. My only complaints, I wish the story of the wife would have been more prominent. The description reads that she was on the edge of a scientific breakthrough, but that side of the story fell flat. Overall a good and quick read.
  • Lane
    I never thought I could be completely captivated by a book about cycling, but in the words of Liz, here we are. Though, to be fair, this book is about so much more than cycling. It's about pushing yourself to your limits, but needing to be absolutely clear where those limits end, in cycling and in life. Rafael as a villain-type character was complex and perfectly done. Because he's not evil. But he's manipulative, and it is this manipulation that...
  • Stefanie
    Cycling! Fiction! Tour de France! Told from the point of view of a domestique - one of the riders who works for the team leader to get them over the finish line and hopefully win the race - over the course of a Tour, the story is peppered with flashbacks so we can see how our narrator arrived where he is. We learn of his hours of training, his accidental meeting of the woman who will become his wife, the life they build together, and their young ...
  • Caitlin Strebing
    I honestly did not expect to enjoy this read as much as I did! I got so caught up in the characters and the plot that I went out and bought a bike myself. And I've been riding it! This story was fast-paced and unexpected
  • Rebecca H.
  • Trisha - Tale of a Bookworm
    Got this ARC in exchange of an honest review from Simon & Schuster via NetGally. Thank You!!I picked this one up because of its cover. (Its quite pretty!!) Its a sports fiction and the writing style is quite interesting. I enjoyed the way writer described the pressure, the drive, the frustrations a sports person face in his life. But I don't know why I could not get engaged with it. The reason could be that I am not a sports person, so I don't ge...
  • Kim
    This just wasn't for me. The narrative was unbalanced and nothing about the story compelled me to read it. The writer assumes the reader knows quite a bit about competitive bike racing (I did not) and maybe this is a better read if that knowledge is already present. I found myself unable to connect with the main character or any of the supporting characters. The main character's wife, Liz, was someone I found particularly unlikable. Is George Sau...
  • Paul Kiczek
    Any cyclist who intensely practices the sport can only imagine the work and dedication needed to compete at its highest level in the Tour de France. We are mere mortals in a sport that favors gods. Yet, we all just live for that day, that ride that burst of energy and control that transcends our perceived capability. If we are destined to be mortals, why do we pretend to be gods? Maybe we are motivated by the joy of work or play or the possibilit...
  • Glenn Sharfman
    Joe Mungo Reed’s We Begin Our Ascent is a debut novel narrated by Sol, a professional cyclist. He tells two stories. The first is his current journey in the Tour de France. He is a member of a competitive team, but he rides in a supporting role. It is interesting to understand the motivation of someone who will never personally win a race or a stage; his sole purpose is to help the star rider, Fabrice, win. As Fabrice goes so goes the team. Dur...
  • Matthew
    4.5 stars.Picture yourself on the very brink of achieving your lifelong dream, one that’s eluded you for your entire life. How far would you go to achieve this greatness? Would you risk everything that mattered to you? Is greatness worth it? Joe Mungo Reed explores these philosophical quandaries in his dynamic debut, We Begin Our Descent. Unsurprisingly the results of this very human exploration are complicated; after all, we as humans are noth...
  • S.G. Wright
    This lean little debut novel took me a few weeks to get through. Don't ask me why. I think I wanted to absorb it into my bloodstream, or else it took me awhile to be fully engaged in its story. It's told in quite streamlined, taut prose by a bike racer in the Tour de France. Sol (along with other team members) are trying to propel their top teammate Fabrice to gain time over the other teams competing. His wife Liz is a research biologist who shar...
  • Andy Weston
    Sports novels are rare. Good sports novels are even rarer. This isn’t a good sports novel, but it’s certainly worth a read, especially for anyone with an interest in the Tour de France of the Vuelta or the Giro d’Italia. Sol is a support rider in a team in the ‘Tour’ (which one is not mentioned, but one assumes France). It is Day 11 when the action starts. Reed manages to get over the inevitably mundane and tough life of a professional ...
  • Ron Bahar
    I received an ARC from Goodreads on a giveaway. Thanks so much for that.We Begin Our Ascent, Joe Mungo Reed's debut novel, was quite educational, in that through it I learned a great deal about professional cycling. Specifically, I learned that even if I were a gifted cyclist, participating in the sport engenders no appeal; it is overly dangerous, and, if portrayed accurately in the novel, it is plagued with performance-enhancing drugs like no ot...
  • Pam
    I love sports and work with cyclists. The Tour de France is happening now and I watched Stage 9 from Arras to Roubaix while I read this book. It was over cobblestones, not in the mountains as in the book, but the trauma was evident. I watched the Tour before for the field trip to France. Now I will understand a little of how the teams work together and the true cost to each rider. In this nice debut novel, the descriptions of the couples' careers...