I love telling the story of how my husband and I met. And I always enjoy hearing stories of the way other lovers paths have crossed, bringing them together in the cosmic order of things. The old story about split-aparts comes to mind – that each of us has a perfect “other half” waiting somewhere for us. When circumstances collide to bring the two halves together, the resulting relationship is quite miraculous.
Rosy Thornton’s new novel, Crossed Wires, is about people finding each other in all sorts of ways. First, there’s Dr. Peter Kendrick, widower, and Fellow in Geography at Girton College, Cambridge. A minor traffic accident leads him to contact his auto insurer’s call center, where one Mina Heppenstall, a single mother, answers his call. During this brief conversation, that magical spark of interest is ignited ~ perhaps it was Peter’s hesitant embarrassment in describing his accident, or Mina’s “great Yorkshire accent” ~ whatever the reason, the two them are drawn toward each other. And so the courtship dance begins, a dance which in this case involves a long series of Sunday night telephone conversations as the two come to learn more about each other “across the wires.”
The novel stands as a delightful love story, but also a story about families and friendships and the way they strengthen our lives. Peter’s 10 year old twins, and Mina’s 11 year old daughter have distinct personalities of their own, weaving another level of relationship issues into the fabric of the story. Mina’s younger sister Jess, estranged from their mother, is desperately seeking a sense of security and family relationship. Peter’s friends, Jeremy and Martin, have a closeness in their relationship which Peter poignantly yearns to experience. Thornton masterfully draws the strings of these relationships together in a tight circle of friendship and love.
Thornton has a way of creating characters with whom the reader instantly cares for and feels familiar. Her novel Hearts and Minds (which was on my list of top 10 reads for 2008 ) catapulted me directly into ~ well, into the “hearts and minds” of Dr. Martha Pearce and her family. These are the kinds of novels I’ve always loved best. Perhaps because I’m an only child (a “once-ler” as Peter’s twins would say), I enjoy having these vicarious friends and family (albeit fictional!) to fill out my social circle.
The jacket blurb describes Crossed Wires as an “old-fashioned fairy tale…about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together.” It’s a novel that gives one faith in the power of relationships, and the special attractions that draw us to one another, no matter what our age or stage of life.
Once again I’m certainly glad to have crossed paths with Rosy Thornton and her latest group of characters.
Oh…and I must tell you the story of how I met my beloved. You see, we were just shy teenagers at the time, both of us studying piano with the same teacher, and each secretly confiding to her our attraction for the other. Tender hearted soul that she was, she decided to pair us up as duet partners for the spring recital. Of course, this necessitated much late night practicing in her studio after all the other lessons were finished.
And so we fell in love over Schumann and Mendelssohn and became duet partners for life.
How’s that for a fairy tale?
Now tell me, how did you meet your best beloved? Would your tale of love make a good novel?