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We Begin Our Ascent

Narrated by: Matthew Lloyd Davies
Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Summary

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 graver. Over the whirlwind course of the Tour, they enter the orbit of an extraordinary cast of con men and aspirants who draw the young family ineluctably into the depths of an illegal drug smuggling operation. As Liz and Sol flounder to discern right from wrong, up from down, they are forced to decide: What is it we're striving for? And what is it worth?

We Begin Our Ascent dances nimbly between tragic and comic, exploring the cost of ambition and the question of what gives our lives meaning. Reed melds the powerful themes of great marital dramas like Revolutionary Road with the humor, character, and heart of a George Saunders collection. Throughout, we're drawn inside the cycling world and treated to the brilliant literary sports writing of modern classics like The Art of Fielding. "A great debut, as affecting as it is smart," writes Dana Spiotta. "Reed's precision-cut sentences and darkly funny dialogue bring to mind Don DeLillo's End Zone."

©2018 Joe Mungo Reed (P)2018 Simon & Schuster Audio

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    5 out of 5 stars

Cycling book of the decade?

This is an exciting novel which is skilfully written by someone very well in the know. It’s a must read/listen! Can’t believe it’s his first novel. Hope he writes another. I’ll be looking out for it.

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Profile Image for Twila Slesnick
  • Twila Slesnick
  • 29-12-18

Weak story, poor performance

Two big problems with the narration: 1) The different accents the narrator used made it difficult for me to understand some of his words/sentences, and 2) the narrator has a habit of dropping the volume of the second half of his sentences, sometimes to a whisper. That combined with his very deep voice made it difficult to hear him. I was constantly turning the volume up and down.

I don't know how much the performance contributed to my lack of enjoyment, but in the end I didn't feel there was much of a story. <I don't think the rest of this paragraph contains spoilers, but skip if you are super-sensitive.> The drama with Liz seemed completely contrived. And the drama with Fabrice didn't seem to follow from what had gone before. I didn't feel any build-up of pressure or tension that might have led to such a result. In other words, it seemed very far-fetched.

I kept thinking how much more exciting and interesting the real Tour almost certainly is.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • @C_Fiddy
  • 09-11-18

quite slow.

Narrorator tries too hard to act out various accents, which becomes a distraction. The story moves very slowly which would be okay if the descriptions had more depth. It was okay, but not as interesting as the old Greg Moody series.

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  • dullman
  • 29-06-19

Lack of depth & poor reading

Reader constantly drops his voice to a whisper so always turning volume up & down
Story was like riding a bicycle in straight line on a flat road. No drama just a long narrative .

0 of 1 people found this review helpful