Rosy Thornton’s latest novel, Ninepins, is a wonderfully absorbing tale set in the Cambridgeshire Fens. It is a story about relationships, particularly those between mothers and their teenage daughters and all of the tensions that can often exist between them.
Laura is a single mother who lives with her daughter Beth. They’ve always had a close and open relationship but now that Beth has started secondary school and formed new friendships, this relationship starts to feel a bit fragile. Laura does not approve of the new friends, and Beth doesn’t want to do things with her mum any more. Laura feels that she is losing her daughter little by little.
Added to this, Laura has always taken in lodgers in to their home, Ninepins, in order to boost their income. Usually, they are older students, but this year she has been persuaded to take in Willow, who is a seventeen year old care leaver. Laura is dubious at first, wanting to know more about her lodger’s troubled past and things are not helped when Willow’s mother, who suffers from bi-polar disorder, turns up very late last night and behaves very strangely. Laura is most troubled though by the way that Willow seems to be a magnet to Beth and that makes her feel increasingly left out! As you can probably tell, this is a novel that is rife with tension and intrigue.
“Reading Ninepins was a most enjoyable experience and one that left me wanting more.”
Ninepins is the first book that I have read by Rosy Thornton and I enjoyed it so much that I am sure it won’t be the last. I think that she has crafted a great story with much going on to keep the reader guessing and to provide a few surprises too. Laura is a very interesting central character who I felt that I could really sympathise with especially with her agonies over her daughter’s behaviour. However, Willow was the character that I was really drawn to, with her strangely shy behaviour and her troubled background. I really liked the way that she developed throughout the story in a way that is down to the clever writing. Up until the very end it’s impossible to work out if she is dangerous or just damaged. Then there’s Beth, a typical teenager trying to establish her own identity and resenting her mother’s interfering. At the same time though, she often wants to behave like a child and she needs her mum more than she realises. I thought that the way that hers and Laura’s relationship was portrayed was most poignant. It is the way that these three main characters develop that make you want to keep reading.
I hope that I have said enough to whet your appetite for Ninepins which is a great story from a very good storyteller. The suspense builds slowly and the reader never quite knows what to expect next but should be prepared for a few unexpected shocks. The story flowed from start to finish and I was curious to read on from the very first pages. Reading Ninepins was a most enjoyable experience and one that left me wanting more.
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