I was lucky enough to be sent a free review copy of Crossed Wires by the author, Rosy Thornton. I love getting books like this but it always worries me in case I can't do the book justice when talking about it; I'm hardly the world's expert at book reviews after all. And then there's always the worry that I won't like the book! Luckily, that was not the case with this highly enjoyable novel and I'm quite happy to wax lyrical about its excellence.
Mina is in her late twenties and has a job at a Sheffield call centre for a car insurance company. It's tedious beyond words, having to say the same things to every customer and deal with the stupidity thrown at her on a day to day basis. And then she gets a caller with a difference. Peter is a geography professor at Cambridge university. He's pranged his car, it was his own fault and he's actually apologetic and yes...'nice'. They chat for a bit etc. and that seems to be the end of it. Then he has another accident and calls again and because of an issue with his no claims bonus, Mina decides to call him from home one evening and they chat properly.
After that, Sunday night becomes their regular chat night and even though they've never met the two find they have a lot in common. Both are single parents and both are lonely. Mina tells Peter about her daughter, Sal, who's a book worm and who she's afraid has no friends at school. About her sister, Jess, who lives with her but seems to have some secret life and chooses not to communicate properly with Mina. And about how her mum left the family home to move in with her partner, Dave. In turn, Peter tells Mina about his twin daughters, Kim and Cassie, how he wonders if they're *too* close, and about how his wife, Bev, died four years ago. He has friends, the gay couple, Jeremy and Martin, and Trish his babysitter, but really he too is lonely and in need of someone to talk to.
As time goes on and various crises come and go, the two come to confide in each other more and more. Eventually one crisis leads to Peter driving the two hours to Sheffield in the middle of the night, except that he's not the one driving and, as they do, misunderstandings happen.
This is very much a story about being a parent. Specifically, a single parent but I think *all* parents will identify with the characters in the story with no problem whatsoever. My youngest daughter is, in actual fact, a single parent and the 'having to call on someone in an emergency' element of the story rings very true to life. There's also that thing where, as a mum or dad, you really do need someone to tell about the little truimphs or new stages your child has conquered and when there's no one as interested as you, it really is very hard.
So, in a way this is a rather a poignant story but I wouldn't say that that's all it is. Truthfully, it's actually a lot of fun too. There's a lot of humour and much that, as a Brit, I could indentify with. Its Britishness shines out of it - with many references to things like our TV shows, our cooking (spacing out the sausages for Toad-in-the-Hole made me laugh), shopping, homes and so on. I'm very fond of the kind of read where I know *exactly* what the author is referring to and where I can be made to laugh at my country's idiosyncrasies.
If I have any complaint at all I would perhaps have liked Peter and Mina to meet a bit sooner. But it's a minor moan, in truth the pace of the book is such that there is always something happening in the lives of the two main characters and that's easily enough to keep any reader thoroughly engrossed. It's beautifully written, romantic, but with a definite point to make about parenthood and how we all make it up as we go along basically. A delightful book that I thoroughly enjoyed.