My guest today is Gail Aldwin, author of The String Games, which has been longlisted in The People’s Book Prize fiction category. Congratulations, Gail!

Let’s find out a bit about this intriguing 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?

This certainly sounds an engaging read, Gail.

 The String Games review quotes:

A story with an astute and lucid understanding of what it means to be a female growing up in a world of adversity and loss. Linda Hill, Linda’s Book Bag

The author writes really well and the attention to detail and the authentic feel to the narrative make this a compelling and thought provoking read. Jo Barton, Jaffa Reads Too

It’s ultimately a story of hope and forgiveness, fresh starts and new beginnings: it’s quite beautifully written, and I enjoyed it very much. Anne Williams, Being Anne

You you can tell from the start it’s going to be something special. Jennifer Rainbow, Bookworm Jen

A stunning piece of literature that is devastating and truly heartbreaking, with hope all rolled into one! Laura Turner, PageTurnersNook

I fell in love with this tale of grief and loss. Laura, Jera’s Jamboree

 Gail is sharing a scene from part three, Jacob’s Ladder

 Where the path narrows, Imogen lingers watching the Thames. Waves of slate and mottled brown weave together like twine. It’s low tide and the river has shrunk, making a beach. Imogen leans against the railing and a glimpse of winter sun rewards her for leaving the office at lunchtime. A woman stands by the water’s edge, and in the shallows there is a boy in wellington boots.

‘That nipper’s the same as my grandson. He loves the water.’

Imogen glances at the man who’s stopped beside her. His tartan scarf is bright against his paper-white face.

‘He’s like my brother, too.’ Imogen’s voice trails as an image of Josh appears. He’s four years old and wearing Thomas the Tank Engine trunks. She remembers his sticky fingers patting her arm during that last hug, back when she was a girl called Nim.

‘My son’s taken him to Australia,’ says the man. ‘I talk to him on Skype every week.’

‘That’s a good way of staying in touch.’

‘You’re right.’ The man’s smile creases his cheeks and then he turns to watch the boy. ‘Take a look at him now.’

The boy hunches his shoulders, his clothes are wet and muddy.

‘Where’s his mother gone?’ The words catch in Imogen’s throat like bile. ‘He’s not safe.’

She rushes towards the steps and takes them two at a time. Her heart pounds as she makes for the water but the ground is claggy and sucks her boots.

‘Hang on,’ the man’s voice booms. ‘His mother’s back.’

Imogen watches the woman launch a towel over the child, covering him. She pulls the boy close, rubbing his hair and tickling him until he collapses with laughter. Imogen tries to move but finds she’s stuck. She throws out her arms for balance and grabs the strap of her handbag as it falls from her shoulder. Wrenching a foot free, muck splatters her coat. A stink from the disturbed ground rises. She’s plastered with mud and dreads to think what the gossips at work will say. Nothing ever goes right, even when she’s trying to be helpful.

‘Do you want a hand?’ the man shouts.

Imogen shakes her head and, stumbling through the boulders, finds a path back. She slumps on a bench and the man sits beside her. Why can’t he leave her alone? It’s too humiliating – she’s been an idiot and now she’s left with a woollen coat in need of dry-cleaning and a pair of ruined boots.

‘Never mind,’ he says. ‘You only wanted to make sure the boy was safe.’

‘He was so alone.’ The admission springs from her mouth as if she has no control over her speech. Her words make the memories jostle. There’s Josh licking a cone, melted ice cream sliding over his fingers. There he is again, scratches on his legs from hiding in the bushes. Imogen holds her face between her hands.

‘Don’t be too hard on yourself,’ says the man.

Wow, that’s quite a scene, isn’t it? If you want to find out what happens next, you can buy the book here:

Buy links


From the publisher, Victorina Press

And you can cast a vote for The String Games in The People’s Awards here:

Meet Gail


 Settled in Dorset since 2006, Gail Aldwin has lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Spain. Her published work includes a debut novel The String Games which was a finalist in the best cover design fiction category of the International Book Awards 2019, a collection of short fiction Paisley Shirt, longlisted in the Saboteur Awards 2018, and adversaries/comrades a poetry pamphlet. As part of 3-She, Gail co-writes short plays and comedy sketches that have been staged in Bridport, Brighton and Salisbury. Gail appears at literary festivals and fringe festivals in the South West.

Contact details:



Thanks so much for dropping by to tell us about your book, Gail. It sounds fascinating. Lots of luck  for the Awards.

Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot, reliable Timothy. But it isn’t quite a match made in heaven. His pushy mother, Sylvia, AKA Monster-in-Law, is intent on taking over their wedding. When the exclusive ID Images is booked to capture the big day, Cassie encounters the most unwelcome blast from the past: Jared, her first love and ex-fiancé. And now her wedding photographer. But Jared is a secret she must keep to herself. When Cassie’s tasked with writing a wedding column, she jokingly writes about her situation. But it isn’t long before it falls into the wrong hands and it’s soon making headlines.

The question every reader’s asking is, who will she choose?