We’re celebrating a new novel by Vivian French – The Runaways of Haddington Hall is published today by Walker Books, and it’s a corker.
For those of you who loved The Steam Whistle Theatre Company, this will be familiar narrative territory. (Though it’s not the longed-for sequel…)
Vivian has set her new book in a similarly Victorian world, packed with a terrific cast of characters to whom she’s given such wonderful names as Honoria Haddington, Sir Oliver Mothercarp, Obadiah Marpike, Mrs Krick and Gobbler, the dog. Where does she find them?
But it’s laundry-maid Minnie O’Sulllivan who’s at the heart of this action packed adventure, alongside Erny and Edith. Redolent of Dickens and Trollope, Viv’s storytelling style is as captivating as ever, and although hugely entertaining, she doesn’t soft-soap the iniquities of educational and economic inequalities, the nastiness surrounding social divides, and the many ways in which poverty can stifle the cheeriest of characters.
Like The Steam Whistle Theatre Company, Vivian’s new novel is one that readers aged 9 to 12s will love, a page-turner that will make them think about the past – and the present.
Congratulations, Vivian French, Walker Books – and the illustrator of the wonderful jacket, Lia Visirin.
You can buy The Runaways of Haddington Hall from your local bookshop, on-line here, or borrow it from your library.