A novel with a strong female lead character who’s flawed but who readers will take to their hearts.
A story about grief, family conflicts and first love, with a dramatic background of sport and the Olympics.
What do you do when your amazing, beautiful, beloved sister dies? Hide in your room for two years. Sleep with a very, very wrong man. Leave home and start a new life, lying to everyone you meet including your kind employer, your curious friends and the man you love?
Pip Mitchell’s an expert at making seriously bad decisions. But when her past, present and future collide at the Sydney Olympic Games, she’s going to have to decide whose side she’s on – or she’ll lose everyone she loves.
No Number Nine is a coming-of-age story about an 18-year-old girl who has put her life on hold for two years after the death of her sister. Pip leaves her home in England and tries to move forward with her life, taking a job in Germany as an au pair to the von Feldsteins, a family which is full of surprises – and not good ones.
Set in Munich, the story follows Pip for a year as she crashes from one embarrassing, awkward mistake to the next. Finally, as she starts to emerge from her fog of grief, she travels with the von Feldsteins to Sydney where, amid the drama of the 2000 Olympic Games, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Can Pip protect herself and the people she loves? Does she have the courage to tell the truth, even if it destroys her?
That must have been where Leo had met Holly. Leo at his first Olympics; Holly at her last. Pip couldn’t remember whether the German men’s team had won a medal. Holly’s team had just missed out on the bronze. Pip was fifteen and had been allowed to go out afterwards with the GB girls, who bought her drinks and looked after her. She felt a lump in her throat. She missed those girls – they were like big sisters to her, all of them. Why did everything, even an anecdote about a prostitute, remind her of Holly? How long did she have to carry this grief, stooping under the weight of it, being ambushed at every turn?
Leo was saying something about Billy, but he stopped. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Nothing.’ Pip blinked back the tears in her eyes.
‘You always look… when I talk about the Olympics… like you’re in pain.’
‘No I don’t.’ It came out angrier than she meant it to.
‘Pip. What is it?’
Could she confide in him? About Holly? About Troy? He would understand, wouldn’t he? Because of his mum, he knew what it felt like to miss someone you love. But no. He was so proper, so upright. He would judge her, especially about Troy, whom he hated, and their relationship, which he would think was creepy because of the age thing.
‘Shall we go?’ She swallowed the last of her hot chocolate and stood up. ‘Race you to the bottom.’
Leo’s face, which had been worried and confused, snapped back to normal. Shutters down, brisk and formal. She couldn’t blame him – he’d been kind and she’d shut him out.
A Fabulous Read – 5 Stars
No Number Nine is a fabulous read. The story of Pip and how she reacts to the death of her beloved sister encompasses the themes of coping with grief and loss, the importance of friendships and family and the heady days of first love.
After Pip leaves her family home in England and takes up her job as au pair to the von Feldstein family in Germany, she finds that she cannot escape her past and the memories she has of her sister. Fate has a way of intervening in our lives for better or worse, and to protect herself and others Pip finds herself lying by omission. It is only when she finds herself in Sydney at the Olympics that she can no longer avoid revealing the truth, regardless of how devastating the consequences may be.
I really felt for Pip from the off as it is clear that the loss of her sister and events during the aftermath have affected her deeply. I enjoyed her journey and felt myself cheering for her as she grows in strength and confidence whilst she navigates new friendships, and grows attached to the complex von Feldstein family, including the two older von Feldstein brothers, Billy and Leo, the latter with whom she falls in love. The book contains some humorous scenes as Pip has a habit of speaking her mind and putting her foot in it, as well as many heartfelt moments. All of the characters have depth and are very believable. I particularly enjoyed Pip’s interactions with Billy and Leo, who are both so very different to each other.
I was gripped when the plot takes the ensemble of characters from Pip’s past and present and brings them together at the Sidney Olympics. Here the drama and the emotion of the story intensified and I was rooting for Pip, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.
The book is an emotional and entertaining read and will appeal to readers of women’s fiction, in addition to those who enjoy sports romance and new adult romance.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
Please note I received a copy of this book from the author and I am voluntarily leaving a fair and honest review.