Steaming out of shops and libraries!

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company is the latest novel by Vivian French, a pacey adventure set in Victorian times when train travel was something extraordinary.

You may just have heard us waxing lyrical about it – all new Vivian French novels are good news, but this has added showbiz – what’s not to like?

And Nicolette Jones at the Sunday Times obviously felt similarly delighted, because she chose it as her Book of the Week today, and this is what she said of Vivian’s outstanding novel.

This novel about a Victorian theatre troupe on its uppers — the Pringle family, with its Shakespeare-loving patriarch, warm-hearted offspring, and some redoubtable women — is a delightful kind of old-fashioned storytelling. The Pringles find a refuge in the home of a poor chatelaine, where the kitchen girl is wonderfully resourceful. Meanwhile, they meet a rival performer, a “baby” who is older, larger and not as talented as advertised. The story inspires sympathy for the hard-working and the kind, and disdain for spoilt children and greedy rogues. It builds satisfyingly to an ending in which the good find friends and salvation and the bad get their just deserts. It would be a treat to read aloud at bedtime, especially for anyone able to do actorly declamations, and, with its edge-of-your-seat pace, it deserves applause.
Walker £6.99, age 7-12

Congratulations, Vivian – and what excellent taste, Nicolette!

You can buy or order copies of The Steam Whistle Theatre Company from your favourite bookshop or borrow it from your favourite library.

And if you’d like a signed copy, Vivian’s local bookshop, The Edinburgh Bookshop, will be delighted to arrange that for you.