Thrown by Sara Cox – Review
By Sandra Callard
Thrown is the debut novel by broadcaster Sara Cox and mainly concerns a group of local women who enrol on a course of pottery to be held in the local, and very run down, community centre. The women are a disparate group, each with problems of their own, ranging from childlessness, death and criminal ex-husbands, to a variety of emotionally charged dilemmas.
They need some escape from their many problems and are all hoping that these classes will be of assistance to their varying woes. The fact that the teacher in charge of the potting is a handsome, clever and artistic man who generates the usual instincts in the hopeful potters, can be literally thrown into the melting pot of the varying thoughts.
The book, I cannot call it a novel, is sectioned between the various women, with their names heading the chapter that is essentially about them, their problems or their unhappiness, and relates their progress, or lack of it, regarding their worries. The women each have a different character, as well as varying problems, and they eventually find they can gain solace from each other and perhaps find some answers to their issues.
The actual pottery kiln, the clay and the endless equipment needed is huge as the nervous potters-to-be begin their task. Their friendships begin to blossom as they learn, and draw upon the strengths of each other, and I did like the journey of the women as they followed the throwing, moulding and firing of their pots. It highlighted their joy and inspiration as they learned their new art. I have to say that the skill of potting was described really well (Cox hosted the TV programme The Great Pottery Throw Down) and, although I have never been a dab hand at it, I almost wanted to give it a go.
The story advances to blend various characters together, sometimes pairings which are so opposite in character, education and status that the results in most cases are interesting and sharp, whilst others are less forthcoming and fade into anonymity. The only really interesting section was the tentative love affair between Sacha and Becky, Sacha being a man on this occasion. It was carefully and sensitively done and I could have wished that other parts of the book had more of these attributes.
The above is basically the story. It is somewhat predictable and mildly scattered with jokey female sexual references that are slightly on the cringeworthy side. There is no suspense at all, but then again it is not a thriller, so I am not sure which genre it would fall into. Maybe we could say it is inoffensive and definitely well researched as far as the pottery is concerned, but otherwise quite bland.
I finished the book and was left with very little reaction to it at all. Perhaps some sadness, pleasure, hope, puzzlement or, in fact anything at all, would have been acceptable, but it was not apparent on this occasion. Sadly, it was an endless slog through fairly uninspired scenarios peopled with relatively mundane characters. Cox is good at her designated job and is an excellent broadcaster, and l feel sorry that I was not more impressed with this book.
‘Thrown’ by Sara Cox is published by Cornonet, £14.99 hardback