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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  138 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Deep in the Cambridgeshire fens, Laura is living alone with her 12-year old daughter Beth, in the old tollhouse known as Ninepins.
Paperback, 308 pages
Published April 19th 2012 by Sandstone Press (first published April 1st 2012)
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Richard Sutton
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A Dose of Redemption in the Dance of Mothers and Daughters

Ninepins was a departure from my usual genres, but one I'm very glad I made. First, the most abiding character seems to be the ever-pervasive damp and flat, open light of the fens, which Ms. Thornton's descriptive skills brought into sharp focus for me. The writing transporting me to a place I've never been, with unexpected familiarity. The setting is a force that Laura and her daughter do battle with daily. Their moods, fears and afflict
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have read all of Rosy Thornton's books and I think that this latest book is by far her best. The subject is much darker than her previous novels but the writing is compelling and atmospheric. Her description of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands is beautiful and you get a real sense of her love for the area.

She introduces us to Laura, a divorcee and mother to 12 year old Beth. I believe that any mother with teenagers will identify with Laura's struggle to let her daughter grow up as she moves from th
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
‘Didn’t every kid deserve a chance?’

Ninepins is the old tollhouse where Laura lives with her 12-year-old daughter Beth. Laura often rents out the pumphouse next to her house to students, but the newest resident is to be someone different, a 17-year-old girl named Willow, who has been in care, and has been recommended for the accommodation by her social worker, Vince.

Laura has reservations and Willow coming to live at the pumphouse, and is nervous as to how the new arrangement will work, and wha
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rosy Thornton's fifth and latest novel is set in a majestic and wholly believable fenland landscape, and concerns Laura and her daughter Beth, who live in a unique situation next to a lode. Part of the property is a separate building, a pump house, which Laura lets out. Their latest tenant is Willow, an enigmatic care leaver with a chaotic past, who under the eye of her social worker Vince is taking a first step towards independent living.

Rosy Thornton, as ever, displays what a beautiful writer
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-copy
I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.

Rosy Thornton is a well-loved British author. And deservedly so. I thoroughly enjoyed her last novel, The Tapestry of Love. So, when Ms. Thornton contacted me about her newest work, Ninepins I eagerly awaited the package from Royal Mail.

Laura is a single mother to 12-year-old Beth. They live in the Cambridgeshire fens at an old tollhouse known as Ninepins. To bring in extra income, Laura usually rents the pumph
Geoffrey Gudgion
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Atmospheric, gently paced but with totally believable and engaging characters, with a powerful sense of place. A delightful read.
Rosy Thornton's latest novel, Ninepins, opens upon the world of the Cambridgeshire fens - earthen dikes that hold vigil over ancient moors and peat bogs, keeping battling against Mother Nature to keep the sea at bay. Enter Laura, a single mother trying to maintain her orderly world, but her twelve-year-old daughter is proving difficult to understand. The addition of Willow, a teenage girl with her own secrets and problems, only adds to the tension and confusion.

As in other novels, Ms. Thornton
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
If characters were perfect, there wouldn’t be much material for a book. On the other hand, one can’t make them too obnoxious, or readers wouldn’t want to hang out with them for the length of the story. In Ninepins, Rosy Thornton had me right at the brink of “too irritating” with her primary protagonist, Laura.

Laura, a divorced mom with primary custody of her daughter Beth, who has just turned twelve, has never heard of the notion that mothers may, in fact, discipline their daughters. Beth is go
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Most people would probably agree that, despite all good advice, they generally do judge a book by its cover to a certain extent. When you go to the library or the book shelf for a browse, the books with the appealing covers tend to stand out; whilst I wouldn't buy a book based solely on its cover, first impressions do count for a lot.

I came across Ninepins, not in a book shop, or on a library shelf, but at my book group. Being a library book group, we tend to read things that the librarian can g
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've read a couple of books by Rosy Thornton now and liked them so when I had the chance to read her newest, Ninepins, I couldn't refuse. She didn't let me down.

Set in the fens of Cambridgeshire at an old house known as Ninepins, Laura has been renting out the pumphouse (an old drainage station) to college students. The house falls empty and this time Laura is persuaded to rent it to a 17-year-old girl named Willow. Willow has had a troubled past, but Laura is assured by her social worker, Vince
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ninepins is only the second novel I have read by this author and I have already discovered how important the role of the landscape plays in her writing. In The Tapestry of Love she brought the countryside of the French Cévennes alive on the printed page and this time she does it again with the very contrasting countryside of the Cambridgeshire Fens. Along with the strong sense of place Rosy Thornton also writes about characters that one feels are realistically portrayed. There is quite a strong ...more
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Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have read all of Rosy Thornton’s books and one of my favourites was her last book Tapestry of Love. I was looking forward to her new book with its particularly enticing cover. Ninepins tells the story of Laura who lives with her 12 year old daughter Beth at an old Tollhouse known as Ninepins. The pump house is an extra source of income for her so she rents it out to 17 year old Willow. What she isn’t prepared for is the change to her orderly life that Willow will bring. From early on Rosy take ...more
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In the opening pages of this story of the struggles of life set in the English wetlands, "Ninepins" spotlights a single mother arriving home from her work as an academic researcher to find strangers waiting for her.

They have come to look at the pumphouse, which Laura Blackwood often lets out to students; the income from the rental helps Laura support herself and her 12-year-old daughter Beth. Her ex-husband Simon's support is sporadic at best, since he has a second family with three sons.

May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Laura ist alleinerziehend und lebt mit ihrer 11jährigen Tochter Beth in einem alten Haus in den East Anglian Fens.
Das dazugehörige umgebaute ehemalige Pumpenhaus wird regelmäßig an Studenten vermietet.
In diesem Jahr ist die Studentin, die eigentlich einziehen sollte kurzfristig abgesprungen und so nimmt Laura die 17jährige Willow auf, ein Pflegekind, das von ihrem Sozialarbeiter Vince zwar noch begleitet wird, aber langsam in die Selbstständigkeit entlassen werden soll.
Willow ist das Kind einer
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely read, quite difficult to categorize in a way, its a gentle romance but not slushy or sleazy in any way. It's character driven and the characters are extremely well drawn and realistic. There is a subtle tension which runs through it although I wouldn't class it as a thriller as such but there is certainly an air of suspense which builds throughout the unfolding story and the wonderful bleak, misty and menacing setting of the Cambridgeshire Fens, is so well painted that I felt I' ...more
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ninepins was published on 19 April 2012 and is Rosy's fifth novel, and her first to be published by Sandstone Press.

The story is set in the Cambridgeshire Fens, and the Ninepins of the title is home to single-mother Laura and her 12 year old daughter Beth. Laura and Beth have been alone since Beth's father Simon left when she was just a small baby. Laura earns a little extra income by renting out the pumphouse in her garden as student accommodation. Her latest tenant is 17 year old Willow, a ca
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, womens_fiction
Note: If I could use a half-star, this would be a 4.5!

Laura is a single mother who has suddenly found her life to be much more complicated than it was before. Not only has she agreed to a 17-year old tenant, Willow, but her daughter Beth is showing symptoms of the “terrible tweens”, a condition that leaves the “terrible twos” in its hormone-ridden dust. Ninepins is their home, situated at the edge of both the town and of the fens (a type of wetland, for those Americans not familiar with the term
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, fiction
4.5. This will be the second book that I've read by Rosy Thornton. What I loved about Tapestry of Love is the same things that I loved in her latest release, Ninepins. Thornton has a wonderful way of making you care deeply about the characters. They quickly begin to feel like people that you could know and that you care about.

The main characters of Ninepins are all great. You feel for Willow because of her life, which leaves much to be desired. She basically had to mother herself because her mo
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, read-2015
‘Ninepins’ is the name of an old house in the Cambridgeshire fens. It’s near a dyke, and has a pump-house which works as a guest flat, and has been let out to a series of students. We meet Laura, the owner, as she hurries home from work to meet a new potential tenant: 17-year-old Willow; she's there with her social worker Vince.

Despite initial reservations, Laura decides to accept Willow. Laura has an eleven-year-old daughter, Beth, and is amicably divorced from Beth’s father who has a new fami
Carol W
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Laura, single mum to Beth aged 12 takes on a new lodger for the pumphouse next to her remote house in The Fens. Previous tenants have always been students, but due to the persuasion of Vince allows a young 17 year old, Willow, leaving care to move into the pumphouse.

Willow has had a difficult past and as Laura and her daughter Beth get to know her more about her past is known. Vince, is Willow's social worker and spends quite of bit of time with the family as they help Willow to make the move fr
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general
Laura and her asthmatic daughter, Beth live in a secluded part of the fens. Their lives are turned upside with the arrival of seventeen year old Willow, a girl with a troubled past and a social worker in tow. Laura is already struggling to come to terms with her daughter's demands for more independence and now with Willow and her bi-polar mother, she finds herself questioning her own abilities as a mother.

I finished this book in less than twenty-four hours, unusually short for someone who is eas
David Hebblethwaite
Oct 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Cambridge academic Laura Blackwood and her twelve-year-old daughter Beth live in Ninepins, a former tollhouse build atop a dyke out in the fens. To help make ends meet, Laura has been renting out the adjoining old pumphouse. As the novel begins, her latest tenant arrives: Willow Tyler, a seventeen-year-old care-leaver. Laura is wary of taking Willow on, because she’s younger than previous tenant, and there are whispers of arson in her past – but she wants to give the girl a chance, and Social Se ...more
Catherine Cavendish
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
From the stunning cover onwards, this is a book you just want to keep on reading. The strange, brooding atmosphere of the East Anglian fens is perfectly matched by this story of relationships. The sometimes strained, but deeply loving relationship between Laura and her daughter, Beth, complicated by the introduction of the troubled Willow and the desire of the mother to protect her sick child. But Beth will soon be a child no longer as she is about to enter her teens, with all the rebellion and ...more
Nov 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
In the first place this is a book about the usual everyday struggle of a divorced mother with a fledgling daughter and all her worries. Nothing spectacular, just ordinary even if comprehensible. The main characters were not easy to get along with, I did not really like one single one of them. This does not automatically mean a bad thing. Sometimes it is rather fruitful if you have to chafe at a book, but Laura, the mother, in particular took decisions, which appeared far too naive and even irres ...more
Cleo Bannister
Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Ninepins is set in the fens where Laura a divorcee lives with her twelve year old daughter Beth. Willow who is now seventeen needs somewhere to live after spending the last four years in care and rents the 'pumphouse' from Laura with the support from her Social Worker Vince.

The story that follows is billed as having the tension of a thriller; I'm not sure this is the really the case, to me it is mainly about an anxious mother learning to let her daughter grow up. Laura comes across as a sympathe
Elizabeth Ashworth
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rosy Thornton's descriptions of the fens are atmospheric and beautifully written. As with her last book, A Tapestry of Love, the sense of place is vivid. Her female characters too, are rounded and well expressed. The story explores the relationships between Laura, her daughter Beth and lodger Willow, and it is the dynamics of these relationships rather than a fast moving plot which form the core of the book. Thoughtfully written and addressing difficult subjects in an intelligent and informed ma ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Laura lives with her 11 year old daughter Beth in a remote home in the fens. She lets out the pump house in her grounds to a new tenant, Willow, a 17 year old in care.

I don't know if I just wasn't in the mood, but everything was just so miserable. Willow's story was tragic. Beth treated Laura like dirt and seemed rather "mature" for an 11 year old. I skimmed most of it as it began to read like social issues dressed up with a bit of a storyline.
Dec 15, 2012 rated it liked it
This was one of those books which didn't really seem to have much direction. Rather than building up to one big event, it was much more constant. I do like the tension created by that sort of storyline, but I did really quite enjoy this, as it kept my attention and I had a lot of sympathy for some of the characters. All in all, not a brilliant book, but a good read when you're not in the mood for something too taxing.
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ninepins is an absolute gem. The countryside of the fens is described with such passion that it becomes a character in its own right, adding a subtle underlying menace. The characters are engaging and interesting and all so very human. The pacing is gentle but draws you in with its undertones that things are not quite right.

If you want a book that is a pleasure to read, beautifully written and utterly gripping then this is the book for you.

Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A good read! The characters were real people who lead fairly normal lives doing normal things so you could relate to them. There is suspense, family relationships and teenage (or young people) angst. Lots you can identify with and sympathise with. Very scenic with excellent description of the local area as well. Definatley a book to keep your interest. My first by this author but I will be looking for more.
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My first novel, 'More Than Love Letters' was published in paperback 2007, my second, 'Hearts and Minds', came out in 2008, my third, 'Crossed Wires', in 2009, and my fourth, entitled 'The Tapestry of Love', was published in paperback in October 2010 (all published by Headline Review). My fifth novel, 'Ninepins', was published by Sandstone Press in 2012, and won the East Anglian Book Awards prize f ...more
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