In some respects, Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton is a “chic lit” novel as the pinkish cover suggests it is: you kind of know what will happen in the end.
However, it is so much deeper than a stereotypical romance novel. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on the cover alone. But there are so many other issues addressed in the midst of a gentle romance that it doesn’t feel unrealistic. You don’t know how the main characters will get to the happily ever after (and, in fact, the ending is not completely that either).
This modern-day romance is a delightful and realistic ride. Given that Mina and Peter live more than two hours away from each other, it seems highly unlikely from page one, where Mina answers her call center telephone to take Peter’s car accident report, that the two will get together. I love the satisfactory and yet open conclusion.
I loved how Ms Thornton did not exaggerate in her depiction of Mina and Peter. They never seemed to be anyone but ordinary people, maybe even someone like me. At one point Mina even ponders that she needs to trim her toe nails. How much more realistic can that be? Although I may love a highly unrealistic but satisfactory love story now and again, it was so reassuring that love stories can happen to ordinary people too.
Also, as any reader of this blog knows, I am not a fan of excessive sexuality in fiction I read. I was delighted that this novel was a “friendship first” relationship. Even though Mina and Peter were good friends, that didn’t automatically translate into a sexual relationship. (I suppose it helps that they lived hours from each other…) So many times in movies and novels it seems people meet and then hope in to bed. Those types of “Friends sitcom” relationships have always seemed a bit unrealistic to me. Crossed Wires was a welcome relief.
The subtitle to Crossed Wires is “Sometimes love is more an accident than a function of geography.” I really liked how geography was weaved into the story. The novel as a whole felt remarkably British, and I loved my imaginary journey overseas each time I picked it up to be a part of the lives of two ordinary single parents living their lives. (I wanted to read it aloud in a British accent.) In that sense, I almost felt that Britain was a character.
In my ignorance, I must admit that some of the British references were unfamiliar. I had never heard the term “traveler” before, and I was unfamiliar with the discrimination issues in Britain. But those things did not affect my enjoyment of the novel. It certainly was a perfect respite from Don Quixote.
Although this post is different from my normal style (I have not well analyzed the novel or well expressed just why I enjoyed the book), I felt it is hard to critique a book I found so enjoyable to read, especially on the heels of such a dense one. I do hope this may give you the motivation to find a copy for yourself.
I read Crossed Wires in the copy published by Headline Review in 2008. It has only been published in the UK and is not normally available here in the USA, so I must thank Amanda for convincing me to purchase it from overseas. It certainly was worth it!