Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

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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!

Reviewed on April 22, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • I’m glad you liked it! I didn’t really think of it as chick lit but more as a soft romance novel. Jason read it and loved it too. It went so much deeper than what I’ve seen in chick lit, with complicated issues such as the prejudice and Mina’s sister’s issues and poverty and complicated families and the parent/children bond. I’ve already read this one twice and can see myself reading it multiple times in the future. Oh and you’re right about Britain being a characters – I think this one made Britain real to me in a way no other book or movie ever has.

    • Amanda » I don’t read “chick lit” but I watch it and I kept thinking if it were a movie, it’d be that genre. I completely agree that there are so many Issues in it that gave it a satisfying depth. I just loved it. A perfect balance.

  • I read another book by her “The Tapestry of Love”. The cover had me convinced it would be very chick-lit-y, but I was pleasantly surprised. Her descriptions of the French countryside were very moving.

    • Myrthe » I think that’s why I just loved this one: it’s not my normal reading material. I’ve been reading some long dense books lately, and it was the perfect break. I’m looking forward to Tapestry of Love.

  • Well given that you and Amanda have both loved this book, now I really want to try it too! I have been in the mood for some romantic reads of late, in part because they are somewhat predictable, and I like knowing that I will get to that happy ending even if there are “crossed wires” along the way. I think that books that center largely around romantic relationships and the bonds we form with others can be immensely rewarding from time to time.

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