Monday, June 8, 2009

Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton (a review)

Crossed Wires by Rosy ThorntonI nearly said no when Rosy Thornton emailed me with a request to review her book, Crossed Wires. Unlike many bloggers who have commented that they like the cover to this book, I was put off by it. It’s too pink and cutesy for my taste (and what’s with all those hearts?). Luckily, I didn’t completely judge this book by its cover: I was intrigued enough by Thornton’s writing style on her website (in the “How It Began” section in particular) that I went looking for book reviews. The first one I came across was Moira’s review at Vulpes Libris, which reassured me in the first paragraph: “I was well into Chapter Three of Crossed Wires before I realized that, contrary to appearances (for which read ‘seriously pink cover’), it wasn’t a piece of inconsequential romantic fluff at all, but something far deeper and much more subtle.” Her glowing review convinced me to give the novel a try and I’m very glad I did.

Crossed Wires is the story of Mina, a woman who works in a car insurance call centre. She lives in Sheffield with her daughter, Sal, and her 17-year-old sister, Jess. The novel’s other main character is Peter, a geography professor in Cambridge, who has twin daughters, Cassie and Kim. Mina and Peter “meet” over the phone when Peter crashes his car into a tree stump, and the novel is told from their alternating points of view. This is a sweet (but never sappy) story that addresses several serious themes (loss, prejudice and the trials and tribulations of single parenthood, among others) with a light and funny touch.

For plot-related reasons, Thornton doesn’t initially describe her characters physically (at least not in detail), but she’s great at providing those quirky little details that make you feel like you really know them. For example, here’s how we’re introduced to Mina’s mum: “She always used too much detergent and never rinsed, comfortable in the belief that soap was clean and that swallowing quantities of it could therefore not be bad for you. The convictions of her generation came from before they’d invented the environment . . .” (p. 13). And here’s a great detail about Peter: “Peter moved behind Jeremy, careful not to obstruct his soft northerly light, and watched the bold, black strokes appearing. He himself would have hated to be watched—even playing Pictionary gave him stage fright—but Jeremy never seemed to mind” (p. 67). (I particularly love this detail about Peter because I can completely relate—Pictionary gives me stage fright too!) The only character I felt I didn’t get to know well enough was Jess, Mina’s younger sister, and perhaps for that reason the resolution to her story seemed a bit too quick and tidy in the end, but this is a minor quibble.

Although the cover to this book makes it look like fluff, don’t let that fool you. I highly recommend this wise and funny novel. Thornton’s two previous novels (More Than Love Letters and Hearts and Minds) are now on my wish list, regardless of what their covers look like!

To read other reviews of this book, visit these blogs:
2 Kids and Tired Book ReviewsA Book Worm’s WorldAs Usual, I Need More BookshelvesBlue ArchipelagoBookersatzBook GazingBookishly AttentiveBookNAroundBooks and MoviesBookstackCaribousmomMariReadsPresenting LenoreReading Is My SuperpowerSerendipityShelf LifeShelf LoveThe Biblio BlogazineThe Zen Leaf (first read) • The Zen Leaf (reread) • Violet CrushVulpes Libriswrite meg!

Read an interview with Rosy Thornton at Vulpes Libris.

Read Thornton’s guest post at Vulpes Libris entitled “Books Should Be Books” (which indirectly addresses my judgement of her book by its cover!).

Thank you to Rosy Thornton for sending me this book to review.

This is the fifth book I review for the New Authors Challenge.

This is also the second book I review for the LibraryThing Author Challenge.


  1. I really liked this one, too! (Thanks for the link!) Peter's twin daughters were two of my favorite characters in the novel, and I really loved the way Thornton explored all sorts of relationships... especially familial. While the love story was definitely there, it had time to build -- it didn't feel rushed or far-fetched to me! That's what really sealed it for me. :) Great review!

  2. An excellent case for not judging a book by it's cover!

  3. Great review Avis! You DO know that pink is a centerpiece of lots of chick lit covers! sooooo, I like pink covers :)

  4. I looked it up on amazon where I found the note "Temporarily out of stock". I requested they offer it on kindle and then added it to my wish list. Thanks for the review, I haven't seen much (if anything) about this book!

  5. Great review. I think the book sounds great and I'm one who likes the cover.

  6. Great review, Avis. This is the first I've heard of this book. The writing sounds like something I'd really enjoy. I'm going to put this one on my wishlist.

  7. I'm glad to see you liked this one Avis. I hope to read it soon. Unlike you, I love pink! so that didn't throw me off. It's always good to hear a book has more depth than you thought it was going to.

  8. Nice review. I don't mind the cover, but it does give off a fluffy vibe so it would probably escape my notice if I was browsing. I've read a few reviews now and it sounds really good. I'd love to read it at some point.


  9. Great review Avis. I think this one might be going down on the to buy wish list.

  10. I liked the cover and sounds like I might like the book. Even though it's pink it looks like it could be a little more on the serious side.

  11. Thanks for the link love! I'm glad you enjoyed this one, too.

  12. Thanks for the great reviw I'm kicking myself in the pants for turning Rosy down to review this one. I just don't want to get too behind on reviews, but I will definitely add this one to my wish list!

  13. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed this book! I received a copy recently from the author and can't wait to read it.

  14. I'm so glad you liked this one, too! Great review - and thanks for the link. :)

  15. Great review! I have this one in my TBR pile too - it's going with me on vacation. I felt exactly the same way after reading the author's website.

  16. Whoo-hoo, it's exciting to get so many comments on a review post!

    Writemeg, yes exactly! That's what I was afraid of based on the cover (that the romance would feel far-fetched and would take up too much of the book) and that certainly didn't happen.

    Luanne, yup, I'm certainly guilty of that in general, but I'm glad I dug a little deeper before I rejected this book based on its cover!

    Tina, yup and I confess that's why I nearly rejected this book!

    Mary, I hope you manage to find a copy of this book. I'm surprised that Amazon doesn't carry it.

    Thanks, Kathy!

    Donna (Myckyee), you're welcome to borrow my copy if you want.

    Dar, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I'm looking forward to your review!

    Lauren, I hope you get a chance to read it!

    Cindy, you can borrow my copy too if you want.

    Nicole, yeah, it's more on the serious side while still being a fairly light read. A good combo, IMO.

    You're welcome, Holly!

    Jo-Jo, that's happened to me a few times too! But you've gotta say no sometimes...

    Bonnie, I'm looking forward to your review!

    Thanks, Carrie, and you're welcome!

    Belle, her website is great, isn't it? And she's super friendly by email too.

    Thanks, Liyana! (and thank you for all your recent comments!)

  17. I am also guilty of judging books by their covers and was also put off by the pinkness of this. It certainly sounds good though!

  18. Thanks for the review, I would definitely pass this right on by in a store because of all the pink.

  19. Strangely enough, I liked the cover, though I didn't much like the book.