Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A Spoke In The Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt

A Spoke In The Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt
Self published in the UK on the 5th February 2018.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £8.99 (PB)
Wordery : from £8.99 (PB)
Waterstones : from £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $5.80 / £4.31 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add A Spoke In The Wheel to your Goodreads

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...

I chose to read A Spoke In The Wheel based on its eyecatching cover and one of the characters being identified in the synopsis as a wheelchair user. I see disabled people around me pretty much every day, but they still seem to rarely warrant inclusion in novels. I thought Kathleen Jowitt has created a wonderful character in Polly. She's abrasive and outspoken which initially comes across as rudeness, but once I began to understand exactly what Polly has to deal with just to get through the challenges of daily life, her frustration is more than justified.

The doper of the synopsis, Ben, narrates A Spoke In The Wheel and I liked how we get to see his life intertwine with that of Polly and her friend/carer Vicki. Ben was a professional cyclist, but this is definitely not a sports novel. Cycling does feature, but in a more practical way. Readers aren't ever bogged down in technical details or expected to know anything about the sport - fortunately for me!

Instead this is, I suppose, best described as a slice of life portrait. I loved how I got drawn into Ben, Polly and Vicki's lives. Jowitt explores British attitudes to disability, to homosexuality and to cheating, showing how ignorance or spite can have a huge impact on someone's life. Yet I never thought I was being lectured or preached to which is a sign of great writing. I read the whole book in a couple of days and actually felt quite bereft at the end when I closed the cover on these friends. They had come to feel like my friends too! I'm really pleased to have found A Spoke In The Wheel and this might well be my Book of the Month.

Meet 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.

Author links:
Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Amazon Author Page

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Kathleen Jowitt / Contemporary fiction / Books from England


  1. I don't think I would have given this book much thought at first glance, so I'm really glad you brought it to my attention. It sounds like it handles some important issues really well!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. It does! And it's a good entertaining read too - not too light, not too serious. Loved this one :-)

  2. I love the title, and yes, the cover is eye-catching. This doesn't sound like an easy going read, however.

    1. It's not a light and fluffy, but it doesn't get bogged down in preaching either. Mostly this is a realistic 'coming-of-age' story about housesharers learning to accept each other and becoming friends.

  3. I enjoyed your review and look forward to reading this book.