Friday, September 21, 2012

Ninepins by Rosy Thornton

Paperback: 308 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Sandstone Press 2012
From the author in return for an unbiased review. 
First Sentence: Half past two: she was certain she'd said half past two.

Review Quote: 
"Thornton is skilled at drawing out the poignancy of ordinary life." - The Guardian 
My Opinion: 
 Strong sense of place.

Ninepins is only the second novel I have read by this author and I have already discovered how important the role of the landscape plays in her writing. In The Tapestry of Love she brought the countryside of the French Cévennes alive on the printed page and this time she does it again with the very contrasting countryside of the Cambridgeshire Fens. Along with the strong sense of place Rosy Thornton also writes about characters that one feels are realistically portrayed. There is quite a strong element of suspense in Ninepins as the story unfolds as she explores the mother and daughter relationship that has become complicated by the arrival in their lives of a stranger with a very troubled past.

For some reason all the time I was reading this novel I kept thinking it had familiarities with a novel I had read previously. I was right if you have read Watershed you will understand what I mean as in that novel storms fire and floods cause some personal watersheds to be reached. The author also brings her story alive with her descriptions and details of the wildlife, landscape and flood defences of the Somerset levels. Ninepins might be set in the Cambridgeshire Fens but it certainly covers similar issues, so if you enjoyed Maggie Makepeace's novel I have no doubt you will also enjoy this one.

Ninepins is the name of the house nestled deep in the fens that is home to Laura and her daughter Beth. In the annexe to their home, an old pump house they usually have a lodger. The latest of these is Willow a teenager leaving a care home to live alone for the first time, who has been recommended to Laura as a suitable lodger by the girls social worker Vince.  The story centres around the three females and the emotional tangle of their situations as the world that Laura previously thought so orderly seems to be spiralling out of control. A daughter growing up too fast and wanting more independence than Laura is prepared to grant her plus a vulnerable older teenager who seems to be a volatile threat to their family life. Will it all end in disaster, I recommend you read it to find out.

As a novel about mother daughter relationships and how we have to adapt to change within these relationships it will especially appeal to those already parents. Although that does not mean those without children will not enjoy it but just relate to the story in a different way.

Author Profile

Brought up in a village in rural Suffolk Rosy Thornton now lives in the Cambridgeshire Fens with her husband, two daughters and two spaniels. In addition to writing fiction, she lectures in law at the University of Cambridge, where she is a Fellow of Emmanuel College.  She also admits to being a season ticket holder at Ipswich town Football Club.
She describes her fiction writing as romantic comedy with a hint of satire - or possibly social satire with a hint of romance.
Rosy Thornton is the author of four previous novels of which I have only read one the latest  The Tapestry of Love - 2010. The earlier ones More Than Loveletters -2007,  Hearts and Minds - 2008 and Crossed Wires - 2009 are all on My Wishlist and I hope to have the opportunity to read them sometime.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

 Goodreads Author Profile   Facebook - Rosy Thornton     Rosy Thornton - Official Website

I have chosen to read this title as the letter N for The A - Z Book Challenge which I have decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I have a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, it will be interesting to see how far I can get before I get stuck. You can follow my progress here.   


  1. I heard quite a few good things about The Tapestry of Love, maybe I'll check one of her books out!

  2. I loved it too.. Every time i visit your blog, I remind myself to update my book review posts with the reading challenge details... Its high time I do it..

  3. Melissa@ If you get a chance I would recommend both, they are very different settings.

    Jyoti@ Have I missed your review? I will call by. As for the challenge I am so pleased that I am managing to read in alphabetical order still. :)

  4. Hi Linda,

    I have seen this book on quite a few other blogs, so it must be doing the rounds.

    Rosy Thornton, doesn't need any introducing to me, after I read and so thoroughly enjoyed 'The Tapestry Of Love'.

    I have just found 'Crossed Wires' on my book shelves, so that has also gone onto my reading list and 'Ninepins' has hit my wishlist.

    I have never come across Maggie Makepeace before, but I shall be checking her out in due course.

    Your review was most thoughtful and sensitive and an excellent recommendation for the book,

    Thanks for sharing,


  5. I like books with a strong sense of place.

    I didn't know there was an A to Z Book Challenge. Fun idea!

  6. Yvonne@ Thankyou as always for your comments. I am delighted that 'Ninepins' has now hit your wishlist. I have never come across any other books by MM, it was strange how much the latter reminded me of the former.

    Theresa@ Then I think you will appreciate the setting in Ninepins. The challenge has been fun and helped me clear my TBR shelves as well.


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