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Book Reviews No Number Nine

At the recent Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup 2018 held in London, The Hockey Museum (THM) had its own exhibition in the Fan Zone at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was complimented by a small shop selling replica historic sticks, stamps and books amongst other things. There was a certain buzz among the museum volunteers for a new book that we were selling, No Number Nine, a work of fiction based around hockey at an Olympic Games. Multiple volunteers were reading – off duty! – and passing the book between them while discussing some of their thoughts. Hearing the chatter was exciting; I decided I had to have a read for myself.

Now I should state that I am not a hockey player. I have worked for the museum for over a year now and have picked up some knowledge of the game. Yet coming to the book with only a small amount of hockey knowledge, I was slightly intimidated by the topic. What if there were detailed descriptions about short corners or penalty flicks? Would I be able to keep up? Would the language be too technical?

No Number NineThe story starts with Pip, a young girl trying to escape her past, a negative experience of hockey and the sudden death of her sister by running away to Germany to au pair for two young boys. Once there it is not long before Pip discovers she has not left hockey behind her at all, but instead walked into the family of Leo and Billy, older brothers to the boys and both German international hockey players. As the story progresses we follow Pip, the web of lies she constructs to hide her past and the German men’s hockey team to the Olympic Games on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia. At the Games, Pip’s world is turned upside-down when she is dramatically forced to face her past as it collides dramatically with her present.

If I had to give a criticism, and I do so reluctantly, it would be that every so often the format changes to be written as a script. To begin with this is obvious that this represents Pip’s imagined conversation with her deceased sister. However, the fact that these scripts represent Pip’s daydreams is not confirmed and, as the book goes on, she starts to picture conversations with living characters, it gets slightly confusing what to take as real and what is imagined.

Overall the book is a whirlwind of emotions as I cringed, laughed and cried along with Pip. Overall, my limited hockey knowledge in no way impaired my reading or enjoyment of the book (as evidenced by my well-thumbed copy above) and I sit here writing this anxiously awaiting a sequel so I can re-join Pip, Billy and Leo in their adventures on and off the hockey pitch.

Holly Parsons, THM Curatorial Assistant, October 2018


A novel with a flawed but strong female lead character, who readers will not help but to like.

A story about grief, family conflicts and first love, with a dramatic background of hockey and the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

No Number Nine is a work of fiction, based around the last few awkward teenage years of a young ex-hockey player ‘Pip’ Mitchell.

After the death of her beloved sister and disastrous relationships, hoping for a new life Pip decides to make a fresh start. She embarks on a journey to Munich where she seamlessly slips into au pairing with the very wealthy Von Feldstein family. As Pip discovers the true identities of her new employers, it stirs up a wealth of emotions, painful memories and new challenges.

Together they all set out on the sporting journey of a lifetime to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This certainly will be a life changing journey, but most definitely not in the way Pip expected.

No Number Nine is a coming of age story about an eighteen-year-old girl, It is well written and would appeal to the younger adult audience; readers around the same age of the main character Pip, could certainly get pulled in by the haphazard way she is navigating a difficult and sometimes painful time in her life. FJ Campbell writes so that you empathise with the characters involved and you begin to root for this unlikely heroine in every aspect of her journey. The writer takes you on this journey of experience with the characters, with all her ups and downs and once you start reading, it’s a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns and some unexpected events. At times hard and difficult themes are covered but you cannot help but want to keep reading. It’s one of those novels where finishing the book is a must. This soul-searching book with its romance, humour, emotion and tension, all with an underlying hockey theme, is a quirky read that its readers may find hard to put down.

Nic Rogers, The Hockey Family, 2018

 

Additional Information And Purchasing

For more information about No Number Nine and other books penned by FJ Campbell, please visit: https://www.fjcampbell.net.

No Number Nine is on sale in the Museum shop at 13 High Street, Woking. Alternatively, it is available via PayPal using the email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for £10.00 plus postage and packing (UK £2.50, Europe £5.75, rest of the world £8.00). To send a cheque, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details.

ISBN 978 178 901 3344

 

Editor: The opinions presented in this article are those of the individual reviewer of this particular book. They do not represent the views of The Hockey Museum.

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