Jane's Reviews > Ninepins

Ninepins by Rosy Thornton
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Aug 14, 2012

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 get in sufficient numbers, and this book was readily available. When I saw the cover, I was less than enthralled. To me, it looks a bit like something I could have knocked up myself on Photoshop at home. Sure, sunsets are nice, but they are a little generic, and that's what I worried the book was going to be. I had never read any of Rosy Thornton's novels before, and I couldn't actually see myself reading this one.

But with the next book group meeting looming, and recognising that I hadn't read last month's assigned book either, I thought I should at least give it a go. It took about two chapters for me to realise that it is with good reason that the age-old advice of not judging a book by its cover is age-old: it's sound advice.

For me, the main attraction of Ninepins was the atmosphere that Rosy Thornton manages to create. Laura lives in an old tollhouse on the Cambridgeshire fens with her twelve-year-old daughter. Laura and Beth's simple life is disrupted when Laura agrees to rent her pumphouse to seventeen-year-old Willow, a troubled teenager who is under the care of a social worker, Vince. Laura has problems of her own to deal with, as Beth, having just started secondary school, is making new friends and beginning to test the boundaries as only teenage (or near-teenage) girls know how.

This disruption and unease are reflected perfectly in the everchanging environment of the fens. Oppressive heat, excessive rain, perilous ice; they all wield their power over the tollhouse and its inhabitants. All the while, with Laura knowing that Willow was once guilty of arson, the threat of fire looms over their heads as Laura tries to keep her daughter safe, and finds herself increasingly involved in Willow's life.

(view spoiler)

I thoroughly enjoyed Ninepins, it was such a pleasant surprise after I had unfairly judged the book based solely on a photograph of a sunset.
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