Read Ninepins Online

Authors: Rosy Thorton





 ‘The secret of Thornton's success is her ability to tap into the concerns of real people and build up a story and a dialogue that is both credible and entertaining. An intelligent and warm-hearted read.'

Lancashire Evening Post


‘The vivid description of the beautiful surroundings, combined with a host of believable characters, make this a charming and enjoyable read that is sure to encourage and resonate with many.'

Living France


‘Poignant and beautifully observed.'

Judith Lennox


‘The book will inspire and enthral … Highly recommended.'

Adèle Geras


‘There is emotional intelligence and empathy in the writing, combined with shafts of humour and a lightness of touch … She has … written a novel that is wise, warm, rich and immensely satisfying.'

Vulpes Libris



 ‘Thornton … is skilled at drawing out the poignancy of ordinary life.'

The Guardian

‘A super-sweet tale.'




Kate Long


‘Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton is a delight … both highly satisfying and also very engagingly written.'

Adèle Geras


‘Heartwarming modern rom-com with a nice edge to it.'

Scott Pack


‘Crossed Wires is about as far removed from bog-standard romantic fiction as Edith Wharton is from Barbara Cartland. It is, simply, a beautifully told love story – a modern fairy tale even – but one with a heart, a brain and both feet planted very firmly on the ground.'

Vulpes Libris


‘As always with Rosy Thornton you get characters you're really going to get to know. They come off the page fully formed and it's difficult to think that they're not people you've met. Even relatively minor characters stay in your mind long after you've finished the book.'

The Bookbag



 ‘A satisfying, plot-driven story that bubbles along entertainingly, but the power of this novel lies in the portrait of Dr Martha Pearce, the college's senior tutor. Her sense of self, her career aspirations and her role as wife and mother are all vibrantly painted and it is the passages that describe her anguish about her home life – her daughter's depression in particular and the heartbreaking efforts she makes to keep their fragile relationship intact, that really make this novel breathe.'

The Daily Telegraph


‘Rosy Thornton, … a lecturer at Cambridge, draws on her experience … to fashion her second novel. Thornton's detailed descriptions of the myriad boards and committees lend a real sense of authenticity to the novel. It is the conscientious Martha who forms the real heart of the book … Thornton's description of her failing marriage is subtle and poignant. Martha's teenage daughter, Lucia, … is deeply depressed and Thornton handles this with sensitivity, movingly portraying Lucia's distress and Martha's inability to reach her. … it is a gentle tale of good people trying to do their best which raises many a wry smile and, in the case of Lucia, possibly a few tears.'

The Glasgow Herald


‘A cleverly written and intricate novel that explores the complex relationships in the world of academia … a great novel.'

Peterborough Evening Telegraph


‘Hearts and Minds is a sparkling, intelligent story about a women's college which elects a man as its Master. The Cambridge college politics, the various narrative strands so skilfully woven in (there's stuff about endowments, sexism, young love, juggling work and home and much more besides) all make it a very pleasurable book to read … I loved it.'

Adèle Geras


‘Funny, original and clever – I loved it.'

Penny Vincenzi


‘Hearts and Minds is at once satirical and humane, deliciously reminiscent of David Lodge as written by Joanna Trollope. It's a warm, witty and sharp-eyed look at what happens to real people and real families when they find themselves in an institution as endearingly, infuriatingly eccentric as a Cambridge college. Rosy Thornton's picture of that world is funny and convincing, and she keeps the reader guessing and hoping right to the end.'

Emma Darwin



 ‘… a highly original mix … a host of believable supporting characters …'

The Daily Telegraph


‘Thornton's debut is charming and funny.'

Glasgow Evening Times


‘Rosy Thornton has produced a real dazzler in her debut novel ‘More Than Love Letters' … Thornton's first offering makes for a refreshingly original and highly entertaining read … A unique book that effortlessly conveys genuine comedy, romance and tragedy, mixed with an apt social and political commentary, ‘More Than Love Letters' is a real triumph and one you won't want to put down.'



‘This is a refreshing twist on the romantic novel. The use of letters, e-mails and newspaper clippings really bounces the tangled storyline along … Light, frothy and delicious.'



‘A love story with a difference.'

Woman's Weekly


‘A charming well-written book, full of sweet anecdotes and humorous stories.'

Belfast Sunday Life


Rosy Thornton
is the author of four previous novels:
More Than Love Letters
Hearts and Minds
Crossed Wires
(2009) and
The Tapestry of Love
(2010). In addition to writing fiction, she lectures in law at the University of Cambridge, where she is a Fellow of Emmanuel College. Married with two daughters, she lives in a village in the Cambridgeshire fens.


By the same author


More than Love Letters

Hearts and Minds

Crossed Wires

The Tapestry of Love




Rosy Thornton


First published in Great Britain 2012
Sandstone Press Ltd
PO Box 5725
One High Street
IV15 9WJ

All rights reserved.
No part of this production may be reproduced,
stored or transmitted in any form without the express
written permission of the publisher.

Editor: Moira Forsyth

Copyright © Rosy Thornton 2012

The right of Rosy Thornton to be identified as
the Author of this Work has been asserted by her in accordance
with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

ISBN (e): 978-1-905207-86-2

The publisher acknowledges support from
Creative Scotland towards publication of this volume.
Cover image: David Savory
Cover by River Design, Edinburgh
Ebook by Iolaire Typesetting, Newtonmore


For Mike

Chapter 1

Half past two: she was certain she'd said half past two. Oh, dear – why was there already a car in front of the house when it was only 2:17?

It was visible even as Laura slowed to turn off the main road and into Ninepins Drove: some kind of long red saloon, a smear of colour against the grubby green and grey. The driver had run it up the track on to the top of the dyke, where Ninepins stood bold and square above the risk of flooding, instead of parking down below, as English reserve led most strangers to do, in the small cindered turning space where the lane ended at her garden gate. She'd have to leave her own car there.

As she drew nearer she could see that the car was no longer new, its pillar box paintwork stained to brown round all the seams; nearer still, and it disappeared from view behind the house. She bumped off the end of the metalled road and into the soft, rutted cinders. It had rained today and she was in her office boots; she'd have to clean them in the morning.

The way up to the front door was by the track the car had taken, slanting up the grassy flank of the dyke. Shouldering her bag, she set off. As she reached the top, the water appeared: the broad, slow drag of Elswell Lode. It was then, too, that her doorstep was visible for the first time and she saw the occupants of the car. Occupants, plural, which was not what she had been expecting: a tall, blondish man of about her own age and a girl, wearing only a vest top in spite of the season, who looked hardly older than Beth.

‘Hello. I'm so sorry I'm late.' She wasn't, strictly speaking, but she hated to keep people waiting. ‘Have you been here long?'

Instead of answering the question, the man stepped forward and held out his hand. ‘Vince. We spoke on the phone.'

‘Ah, yes. Hello.' The man from the council. But why was he here? ‘I'm Laura Blackwood.'

‘And this is Willow, who's come to see the room.'

The girl turned curious eyes on Laura but did not speak or smile. She was no taller than Beth and slightly built: older than she looked from a distance, but surely no more than sixteen?

‘Right. Good. Hello, Willow.' She was about to offer her hand, but the girl had looked away. ‘Actually, it's not a room, exactly.'

The man, Vince, nodded. ‘Self-contained accommodation, it said in the advert. Is that right?'

‘In a manner of speaking.'

Instead of opening the front door and showing them into the house, she led the way past the end of the kitchen to the steep concrete steps which took them down the dyke on the landward side and into the garden. The Housing Aid Centre in Cambridge was one of the places she'd lodged the details; that, and the local paper on Thursday, when all the property ads went in. So she hadn't been surprised when it was someone from the council who rang to make the appointment to view. She even remembered his voice now, and the way he introduced himself – just Vince and no surname. But it didn't explain why he had come along with the girl. It seemed beyond the call of duty for a housing adviser.

‘This is it. We call it the pumphouse.'

They had stopped on the path in front of it: a low, brick building, crouched close against the base of the dyke and topped at one end by a single tall chimney.

‘It used to house a pumping engine, for fen drainage. Before our time, though.'

Pump and engine had been stripped away long before she and Simon bought the house in 1991, sold for scrap no doubt, or broken up and turned to farm purposes. It was in use as a shed then, before Simon left and she cleared, decorated and furnished it as a bed-sit to bring in some extra income for herself and Beth. She'd had the shower and loo put in, as well as powerful electric heating to keep at bay the constantly encroaching damp.

‘I'm afraid it can get a little musty in the winter,' she said, as she opened the door and sniffed the air, ‘or when it's been closed up for a while.' The place was single-brick construction and low-lying. She'd had it dry-lined and damp proofed, but it hadn't seemed to work; the wet came creeping back. ‘There's a dehumidifier you can keep on, and the heating's pretty effective. Electricity's included in the rent, so there's no need to stint.' Her bills were astronomical, but it seemed only fair.

Vince and the girl followed her inside.

‘I put ‘‘self-contained'' in the description because of it having its own entrance, though I'm never quite sure about the terminology. You can't really cook in here, you see. There's the kettle and toaster and that little microwave.' She indicated the miniature machine on the corner shelf, scarcely big enough to make a bowl of porridge. ‘It's the electrical circuit. What with the heaters and everything, it tends to overload. So I can't have a cooker in here, I'm afraid, or even a full-sized microwave.'

Other books

Charming, Volume 2 by Jack Heckel
The Wanted Short Stories by Kelly Elliott
Master of Desire by Kinley MacGregor
Carl Weber's Kingpins by Smooth Silk
Alaskan Summer by Marilou Flinkman
Winter's Edge by Anne Stuart
Someday We'll Tell Each Other Everything by Daniela Krien, Jamie Bulloch
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos
Reading Madame Bovary by Amanda Lohrey Copyright 2016 - 2021