Title: Crossed Wires
Author: Rosy Thornton
Genre: Modern fiction
Publisher: Headline Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First line: ‘Autocare Direct Motor Insurance. My name is Mina, how may I help you?’
Peter is a widowed geography professor (or “don” as they say in Britain), living in Cambridge with his twin nine-year-old daughters. Mina works in an insurance company call center, taking calls from people making claims on their insurance. She is also a single parent, living in Sheffield, raising her ten-year-old daughter, and trying to mentor her seventeen-year-old wild-child of a sister. Their lives cross when Peter runs into a tree while swerving to avoid the neighbor’s cat, and calls his insurance company.
Rosy Thornton’s Crossed Wires is a delightful British novel about parenting, friendship, and love. Thornton’s writing reminds me some of Alexander McCall Smith, although (and don’t hate me if you’re a total Smith fan) I think Ms. Thornton’s characters are more authentic, less caricature. I fell in love with Peter and Mina, and rooted for them throughout this novel, wanting them to succeed both as parents and in their relationship with one another.
The two storylines run parallel to each other, with Peter and Mina only intersecting on the telephone for most of the book, and for that reason this novel is much deeper than a typical romance. Peter and Mina are both dealing with the uncertainties of raising preteen daughters. They are lonely for adult companionship, and yet have made their respective child/children their top priority. The relationship between parent and child is written with tenderness and humor; I especially enjoyed the conversations between Peter and his twin daughters.
I also enjoyed the fact that this is a British novel, written for a British audience. Thornton doesn’t stop and explain terms that we Americans wouldn’t understand, and so I had to look up quite a few words, but it helped to completely immerse me in the world of the novel. (Look for my Wondrous Words Wednesday post for some of the British terms I learned.)
Sitting beside the pool this afternoon as the kids splashed away, I turned the pages of this book faster and faster as I came to the end, not because it was suspenseful in any way, but because I knew what was going to happen, and couldn’t wait. I am also looking forward to reading Ms. Thornton’s other novels, and have added them to my wish list. Highly recommended.