by Rosy Thornton
Headline Review, 2008
Reading Crossed Wires is like meeting new friends and, in this case, new friends in a new country. Set in modern-day England, this is an up-close and personal look at the lives of two people.
Mina (pronounced Meena) is a single ‘mum’ working at a call center for an automobile insurance company. She’s twenty-seven, has a ten-year-old daughter, Sal, and not much of a social life. She has her own mum and her mum’s boyfriend Dave. They live not too far away and are always available to help with Sal. Mina’s younger sister, Jess (17), lives with her because Jess and their mum do not get along. Lately Jess has been staying out very late or not coming home at all. She has no job and doesn’t go to school. Mina is very worried about her. She’s also a little worried about Sal. Sal only wants to spend her time with books. She’s really not interested in playing with other girls.
Peter has a Phd. in geography, works as a don at Cambridge. His wife died about four years ago, leaving him the sole caregiver of their now nine-year-old twin daughters. Peter also has his own worries: he’s not sure if it’s normal for the twins to be so completely attached at their age. There is also Trish, a grad student Peter is supervising through her Phd. program. Trish is a great babysitter and a good family friend. He also has some good friends, Jeremy and Martin, who live just up the lane from him. He worries about his three friends.
Peter and Mina meet on the phone and very gradually begin to speak with each other over the course of many months. They have a common bond in that they are both quite lonely and they are primarily on their own when it comes to their children. During the course of the book each has a crises or two in their lives but gradually they become very good phone friends. Does the relationship go beyond the phone conversations? Do they resolve their worries? Now you know I’m not going to spoil it for you.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book because, as I said earlier, it felt like meeting new friends. The story develops very slowly, much like the development of real friendships. The dialogue was quite good and I felt as if I could hear the characters speaking, each in their own accents. And, I loved the three little girls.
This is Rosy Thornton’s third novel. She writes from her own experience because she’s also a lecturer and Fellow in Law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. She is herself a ‘mum’ to two daughters which tells me how she could write all that natural children’s dialogue. Ms. Thornton has an excellent website: www.rosythornton.com. The About page has links to other articles and interviews. This is where I found out about her other two books. I liked Crossed Wires enough that I’m going to read them both. I have a hunch I will meet some more new friends.
For othe Book Reviews of Crossed Wires see: