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Ninepins [Paperback]

Rosy Thornton
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

16 April 2012
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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press Ltd (16 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905207859
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905207855
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rosy Thornton is an 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. She shares her home with her partner, two daughters and two lunatic spaniels.

Visit her website at

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars subtly menacing 22 April 2012
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'd just spent some time there despite never having set foot in that area in my life!

Mostly this is a story about motherhood, womanhood, female relationships and adapting to change and will appeal to a wide range of readers although especially Mums with teenage daughters.
The Mum in the story, Laura, is a divorced single Mother to Beth, 12 years old, who is riddled with pre teen angst, puberty and asthma. Her struggles to fit in, avoid being bullied and attempts to be one of the in crowd, mirror her Mums struggles to say and do the right things to her daughter and often end up making cringingly awful yet minor mistakes which alienate rather than support.
It took me right back to my early teen years!

Into their lives floats Willow, a teenager in care with a bit of a past at 17 young enough to be a friend to Beth, but will her influence be a good one and when she becomes a tenant of the small pump house cottage owned by Laura bringing her social worker Vince, and her own teenage insecurities into their lives what repercussions will this have.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent read from Rosy Thornton 21 April 2012
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 care-leaver with something of a mysterious past.

Rosy Thornton is expert at creating a real sense of place with her words, the vast and desolate, yet beautiful Fens of Cambridgeshire are brought to life in this story, the reader can almost feel the chill and the damp air when reading her description of the landscape.
Descriptive scenery however, are not her only gift; her creation of three very different, yet extremely strong female characters is excellent. Laura, Beth and Willow; the adult, the teen and the child are the perfect cast of characters to play out what is often a fairly tense story. Beth's anguish as she starts secondary school and encounters the 'politics' of pre-pubescent girls is at times heart-breaking, and although it is well over 30 years since I experienced those feelings myself Rosy's writing really did bring some quite harsh memories back. Beth's internal battles with herself - whether to appear 'cool' to her new peers or to obey her mother Laura are so so real, as are Laura's feelings when she realises that her little girl is growing up and no longer is she the centre of her world.
Add Willow, with her vulnerability covered by harsh words to this mix and Rosy Thornton has served up a novel with many themes.
I enjoyed Ninepins very much, it is very different in style to The Tapestry of Love, showing the diversity of Rosy Thornton's writing ability.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So so 12 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The scenery seems to overcome the characters in a book that was only ever heading one way. Enjoyable to read and thought provoking in parts, but not a book I'll remember for a long time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Bryher
This 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 she is, and how well she reveals the inner life of her characters. Once again, she writes of women (and I include the 12 year old Beth in this) who are negotiating change in their lives with resilience and courage. At the same time, the reality of growing up with all its angst, feeling the temptation to be cool, and experiencing the unique brand of cruelty that young girls mete out to one another, are described with perception and precision. Even as she appears trailing mystery and slight menace, I found myself rooting for the 17 year old Willow. It is obvious how much Thornton empathises with her young characters and as a result makes them so believable. She also manages to avoid a stereotype with a credible scenario of social care, in Vince, Willow's social worker, getting it right, getting it wrong, but doing his best to embody a figure of trust after an ambiguous start.

As with her previous novel <i>The Tapestry Of Love</i>, the landscape is pretty well a character in its own right. Lovingly yet fearlessly described, the fens formed a visible backdrop in my mind's eye as I read the novel, sometimes taking centre stage, as when the waters that are kept in check with such difficulty rise up and flood the pump house.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtly menacing
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. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story telling
I love Rosy Thornton's books. They are relaxing, holiday reads, well written with wonderful, real characters. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Marilyn Dunkelman
5.0 out of 5 stars A child's view of life in Southern France
I found this book difficult to put down. A sensitive way of confronting adult heartbreak ending in hope. I recommend.
Published 5 months ago by MaryJane
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
The 1st reason I loved it was the fab descriptions of the beautiful fens, having grown up in the fens it took me back there, she described it so well it was like I was there with... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mme Vicky Finlay
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
Atmospheric, gently paced but with totally believable and engaging characters, and with a powerful sense of place. A delightful read. Recommended.
Published 11 months ago by Geoffrey Gudgion
4.0 out of 5 stars a great read
All the mix you need, single parent, adolescent just coming out of care, social worker, and mentally I'll mother. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Rita Eagles
5.0 out of 5 stars A jolly good read
Totally realistic and not at all far fetched I enjoyed reading this book immensely. The characters were well defined, and I felt like I was an observer just standing in the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Alison Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable read
Enjoyed this book about Laura single Mum to 12 year old Beth. The description of the area where they live is so good you feel you are there. An easy read about relationships.
Published 13 months ago by Hazel
4.0 out of 5 stars gripping - for some strange reason...
It's not the most exciting topic or read but, nevertheless, intriguing. The further I read the more I wanted to know about the characters and their past and future.
Published 14 months ago by lonbakl
5.0 out of 5 stars Ninepins - excellent in every way, family and surroundings
An excellent book which stirs the imagination. Wonderfully evocative of the Fens in all seasons. Descriptions excellent
of all seasons
Published 14 months ago by Mrs J. Amy Burt
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