Deep in the Cambridgeshire fens, Laura is living alone with her 12-year-old daughter Beth, in the old tollhouse known as Ninepins. She’s in the habit of renting out the pumphouse, once a fen drainage station, to students, but this year she’s been persuaded to take in 17-year-old Willow, a care-leaver with a dubious past, on the recommendation of her social worker, Vince. Is Willow dangerous or just vulnerable? It’s possible she was once guilty of arson; her mother’s hippy life is gradually revealed as something more sinister; and Beth is in trouble at school and out of it. Laura’s carefully ordered world seems to be getting out of control. With the tension of a thriller, Ninepins explores the idea of family, and the volatile and changing relationships between mothers and daughters, in a landscape that is beautiful but – as they all discover – perilous. (Amazon)
* My mum has been coveting my review pile for a while now so for the first time on Booklover Book Reviews today I welcome Booklover Mum for a book review ‘interview style’!
What initially drew you to Ninepins by Rosy Thornton?
The book cover art was a little bit different from the norm – it was quite striking and evoked a sense of mystery. I was also keen to find out the history behind the tollhouse name, Ninepins.
What is the driving force within this novel – plot or characters?
Ninepins is heavily focussed on character exploration. It is a story about daily life and the trials of parenting a teenager. Tension is compounded when a troubled outside influence with a somewhat secretive past is added to the mix. Although a thorough exploration of the relationships, I did not find the storyline particularly inventive or the events that occurred surprising. It was subtle rather than exciting.
Is there a particular character that you had a strong emotional response to, good or bad?
I particularly liked the troubled adolescent, Willow. Thornton skilfully revealed her additional layers throughout the story, transforming her from what could easily have been a one-dimensional character device to one with substance and maturity.
Did you like how the novel was structured?
Ninepins is predominantly told from Laura’s viewpoint. This allowed the reader to experience the teenage dramas from a mothers perspective. The conflict between protecting your daughter from the trials of adulthood while preparing her for it, is something any mother would relate to.
How did you find the writing style?
Thornton takes great care in describing the sights and sounds of the setting for this novel and its interplay with the characters’ lives. The prose was free-flowing and very accessible.
Who would you recommend this book to?
Although Ninepins is about teenagers, it is not necessarily something that would appeal to them. The target audience is definitely female and those with experience raising children will identify most with this story.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
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Author Information: Rosy Thornton is a UK-based author of contemporary fiction, published by Headline Review. Her novels could perhaps be described as romantic comedy with a touch of satire – or possibly social satire with a hint of romance. In real life she lectures in Law at the University of Cambridge, where she is a Fellow of Emmanuel College.
– Checkout Rosy Thornton’s personal website
* Receiving a copy of this title free from the author for review did not in anyway impact the reviewers expression of their honest opinions having read the novel.