I love it when a book proves me wrong. Toni Jordan’s Nine Days did just that. The idea of the book is fantastic – that it is the story of the photograph on the front cover, showing a woman hoisted in the air to touch, for one last time, her departing soldier boyfriend. But, after I began reading it, I wasn’t sure that I was going to love the book.
Nine Days is broken into nine chapters and each chapter is told from the point of view of a different, but connected person, and each section shifts through time. Despite the fact that this might sound confusing, it isn’t. Jordan gives enough subtle clues for the reader to be able to work out the timeframe of the chapter and how each character might be connected to the others. So that wasn’t the issue – in fact I think she handled the different viewpoints deftly and I was amazed by how real each different voice sounded. Jordan could certainly be a ventriloquist should she ever wish to give up writing books, which I hope she doesn’t!
The issue for me was that I found it difficult to connect to the character voicing the second chapter of the book, Stanzi. But I was still interested enough in all the threads Jordan had gathered by this stage to keep reading and thank goodness I did.
Nine Days is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I loved the idea that a minor tragedy, amongst all the tragic stories from the war, could still be sending out the smallest ripples into the future and that it could be mirrored, in a different way, in another time. Connie is a wonderful character – strong and dreamy and warm and never tragic, despite the terrible things that happen to her. Melbourne is the tenth character in the book and it is a boisterous and bold character, one that makes you feel, in Jordan’s hands, as if you are racing along her run-down streets.
Jordan’s writing was also a revelation. There are some beautiful sentences in Nine Days, ones that just make you stop and re-read them to enjoy the images they evoke – even the mundane art of folding sheets is transformed into a wide stretch of “white river”.
I will be seeking out Jordan’s other books now and hoping they resonate with me just as much as this one did.
*Review posted as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge