Reading Rosy Thornton’s Crossed Wires was a little like finding a hundred-dollar bill buried in the ground: totally unexpected and awesome! As soon as I read that it took place in England, y’all know I was on board. And I loved it!
So here we meet Mina, auto insurance call center rep and single mother to Sal; and Peter, Cambridge professor and widowed father to twins Kim and Cassie. They live in entirely different worlds, and parts of England, but after a few silly collisions in Peter’s Land Rover — and the subsequent calls to Mina at the insurance company — the two are brought swiftly into each other’s lives.
This story is described as an “old-fashioned fairytale” — and, like in many great stories, we wonder if our two characters will ever meet. Peter and Mina are living out their own stories with friends and family, and we meet many well-drawn, interesting characters: Jess, Mina’s wayward baby sister; Jeremy and Martin, Peter’s good friends; Trish, a grad student who watches the twins for Peter — and serves as his personal assistant, at points; Mina’s mum and Dave, her boyfriend. As Peter is still trying to find the balance between being a single father following the death of his wife Bev, Mina is grappling with Sal’s reticence and disinterest in anything other than her favorite books.
Our romantic leads chat comfortably first about Peter’s car, and later about everything else — a phone relationship, of sorts, begins after Mina calls Peter at home. After their girls are all in bed, their Sunday night chats become a ritual . . . but chatting is as far as it goes. Until fate suddenly brings Peter to Mina.
I really, really loved this book — the push-and-pull of wondering how the story will play out; if Mina and Peter will ever stand before one another, face-to-face; the realistic, heart-wrenching descriptions of parenthood, friendship and sisterhood. I really related to Mina and Sal, and felt very close to them . . . and I adored the twins and their frantic, close relationship. Thornton deftly draws each character and fashions them into people we feel like we really know, or that we could sit beside in a coffeeshop (should I find myself in England!).
I will say that as an American, I struggled with many of the British references and jargon — calling dinner “tea,” a flashlight being a “torch,” etc. Though I’m an Anglophile beyond a doubt and could clearly hear the cadence of each character’s vocal patterns, it was still a little jarring and hard to focus sometimes one what was going on. I almost felt like I was reading a foreign language! But that was part of the fun. Mid-way through the story, I’d gotten the hang of it . . . and can probably imitate some of sayings now!
Overall, a really great, fun and moving novel — and not just light and fluffy fare. After finishing it, I feel like I’ve really been on an emotional journey with Mina and Peter . . . and I love where Thornton leaves us. Great read!
4.5 out of 5!