The String Games by @GailAldwin #review @victorinapress

When the author contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in reading her book, I wasn’t too sure. As it involved child abduction and murder, I was worried it might be too dark and upsetting. However, I said I’d give it a go and if it wasn’t a book for me, I’d let her know. Since you are about to read my review though, I have indeed read the book.

Imogen, always known as Nim, is on holiday in France with her mum and brother and her mum’s very close friend Dee and her daughter Ella, when Josh goes missing. The book is split into different sections looking first at what happened on that holiday, next at Nim as a teenager and then as a young woman struggling to come to terms with what happened in the past.

It was, of course, upsetting to read about when Josh disappeared. It is surely every parent’s worst nightmare and I can only imagine how I would feel if it happened to me. Nim feels that it is her fault and I think that the author captured the child’s voice beautifully in this part of the book. Nim’s feelings of guilt and confusion at what had happened was all too clear. I have to admit that I didn’t like Nim as a teenager at first and I think again that this is because the author had captured those self-centred teenage thoughts perfectly. It was frustrating to read about how Nim seemed to be squandering opportunities to do well at school and got in with the wrong crowd. But then, what teenager doesn’t want to fit in and be considered normal? It seemed like it was hard for her to know who to trust. And then when we meet Nim, now going by the name of Imogen again, in her early twenties, we see a young woman profoundly affected by the events of the past, needing to make sense of it to move on. It was clear just how much the loss of her brother was affecting her – and her parents – as time was passing.

Although this is a sad story about loss and grief and recriminations, it is also an optimistic book showing that even after the most terrible of events, there can be hope for the future. The author writes sensitively about the emotions of a family going through the darkest of times. This is a portrait of a woman finally being able to reconcile herself to the legacy of the past and to permit herself to accept that she was not to blame. The String Games is a thoughtful and thought-provoking read.

My thanks to the author for inviting me to read her book and sending me a review copy. The String Games will be published on 28th May by Victorina Press. You can pre-order your copy directly from the publisher’s website here: The String Games

From the back of the book

When four-year-old Josh is abducted and murdered during a family holiday in France, Nim, aged ten, becomes an only child. To cope with the tragedy, Nim reinvents herself but continues to carry a burden of unresolved grief. As an adult she returns to France determined to find out more about the circumstances of Josh’s death. How will she deal with this new information and what are the implications for her future?

About the author

Gail Aldwin

Settled in Dorset since 2006, Gail Aldwin has lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Spain. Her short fiction collection Paisley Shirt was longlisted in the best short story category of the Saboteur Awards 2018. She co-writes comedy sketches and short plays which have been performed in Brighton, Salisbury and Bridport. Winner of the Bournemouth National Poetry Day competition 2016, Gail’s poetry is included in the poetry trail at Beaumont Park, Huddersfield and can be found at Flaghead Chine Seaside Garden, Poole. Her first poetry pamphlet adversaries/comrades is based on the theme of siblings and will be published by The Student Wordsmith in 2019. Gail’s debut novel The String Games is also scheduled for publication in 2019 with Victorina Press. As chair of the Dorset Writers’ Network, Gail works with the steering group to inspire writers and connect creative communities. She also supports undergraduates on the Creative Writing BA (Hons) at Art University Bournemouth as a visiting tutor. You can find Gail on Twitter @gailaldwin or on her blog,

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