The String Games is a coming-of-age novel that charts the legacy of loss for Nim following the abduction and murder of her younger brother when she is ten years of age. Nim grows into a vulnerable teenager but as an adult she is able to address issues of unresolved grief.
Settled in Dorset since 2006, Gail has lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Spain. Her work includes Paisley Shirt a short fiction collection longlisted in the Saboteur Awards 2018 and adversaries/comrades a poetry pamphlet. With 3-She, Gail co-writes short plays that have been staged in Bridport, Brighton and Salisbury.
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
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
Aldwin blends her dark and light with an artistic touch, leaving the reader with just enough detail to ask ‘What would I do?’ J J Marsh, Bookmuse
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
I fell in love with this tale of grief and loss … a wonderful read and highly recommended. Laura, Jerra’s Jamboree
It is often remarked that what happens in your early years may well affect the rest of your life and this story is a very good example
The string games
Observation and description create vivid and strong settings and evokes mood and atmosphere.
This is a great read. It talks about overcoming the difficulties of life
A sensitive and thoughtful examination of how early experiences shape us, through three stages in the protagonist’s life. Beautifully written.
A beautifully written novel with highly engaging characters whose journey keeps you with them to a satisfying end. Highly recommend.
Could not put it down. Great read.
A very moving and relatable read!
Bought for the cover and kept reading for the characters. A real recommendation.
I bought The String Games at a book launch and read it within the week.
It is eminently readable, due to Gail Aldwin’s skilful handling of language, literary devices and realistic characters in challenging scenarios. I do believe it is a book worthy of awards and I wish the author good luck with this one. I hope I can write something this good myself one day!
Original and moving, as well as emotionally truthful. Thank you Gail.
What a book – well done Gail.
I found this book interesting and a real page turner, and read it in two sittings.
Is it listed on the New York Times Best Seller List? If not, it should be. Pick it up and you won’t be able to put it down.
I really enjoyed reading the String Games. Fabulous.
The String Games grabbed my attention from the beginning and held it throughout. An emotional novel and a wonderful debut from a very talented writer. Highly recommended.
This book is quite a page turner and has many quite subtle insights e.g. into the main character’s parents and different ways of coping with grief. Definitely worthy of a prize!
A thought provoking excellent book.
Gail’s lucid prose draws you inexorably into the family holiday that has such tragic consequences. The settings are exquisitely handled and she captures Nim’s voice as she grows and develops over the years with great skill. A perfect summer read.
Gail’s prose is sharp and vivid. Descriptions of water are many, varied and unexpected. The narrative draws the reader in and compels you to keep going. A fine first novel and I look forward to reading more from this engaging writer.
Brilliant novel. In-depth and interesting. Fantastic eye-catching cover too.
The String Games is described as a pyschological drama by the author. It is that, but much more besides. The book is told in three parts, each one with a title relating to the string games I’m sure we have all played as children. Part 1 is named Cat’s Cradle and takes us back thirteen years. Nim aged ten and her bother Josh aged four go on a family holiday with their mother Jenny to a camping site in France. They meet up with Dee and her daughter Ella, freinds of the family. What starts out as a typical holiday with visits to the beach, lots of ice creams, a forbidden scooter ride with local boy Maxime, Nim ‘falling in love’ for the first time, all seems perfect. Josh then disappears and is not found. Every parents worst nightmare.
Part 2 is titleld The Worm and this is set five years later. Nim is a typical teenager, she is a loner who cannot stop thinking about Josh and blames herself for letting him out of her sight. Mixing with the wrong crowds and struggling with her relationship with her mother, Nim spends her weekends at her estranged father’s house. She becomes involved with rebellious Michaela who introduces her to nineteen year old Jez. The reader fears that this will not end well.
Part 3 is titled Jacob’s Ladder and is set eight years later. Nim has now reinvented herself as Imogen, her birth name and has a job. She cannot rid herself of the past though and after suffering a major panic attack in a park, she decides to pack her job in and go back to France and try to find answers to Josh’s disappearence.
After meeting up with Maxine again, he helps her to find answers for all the unresolved issues.
Gail Aldwin writes in a sensitive manner and the descriptions are authentic. This was at times a sad, but engrossing read and I can highly recommend this book.
I particularly liked the child’s voice in this first novel but in fact all Nim’s voices feel very authentic.
I enjoyed reading The String Game by @gailaldwin,
the story of Imogen’s search for solutions to her childhood losses, expertly told in three episodes.
I read this book quite quickly as I wanted to find out what happened to Josh, but it wasn’t the story I thought it would be.
Although Josh wasn’t around long he was a great character and I didn’t find Nim’s character very convincing.
When I read Gail’s piece called ‘The Inspiration for the String Games’ I could absolutely identify with what she was saying and it made me really want to read her novel, but trying to tell the story through Nim/Imogen just didn’t work for me.
Also the adult characters of Jenny and Dee and father Gary seemed so involved with their own issues that they couldn’t help each other or Nim come to terms with what had happened. 13 years later Imogen knows about Hector Pascal but Fabienne’s answers to her questions about Josh wouldn’t have satisfied me. The strings weren’t pulled tight enough.
A coming-of-age story narrated by a troubled teenage girl called Nim who nurses a deep guilt about the death of her brother, Josh.
I wouldn’t normally read a book in this genre but I was strongly recommended to try it. I’m glad I did! I feel I know Nim and her sparring parents extremely well, and Nim’s questionable friends, as she tries to uncover the mystery of Josh’s disappearance.
I loved the tightness of this writing, was impressed by the book’s structure . The characters are engaging and the story poignant. In parts it reads like a thriller but it’s a quest as well as a novel about coming of age beautifully written with vivid well-selected images.
I totally loved this book! I kept trying to put it down but just couldn’t. When I did I went back to it as soon as possible. It finished too quickly. I totally connected with the main character and was enthralled by the story. Can’t wait for the next one.
Gail has written a very constructive story, originating in the horror of losing a child. A book with pace which from the first page to the last, enthralls the reader, who finds it very hard to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed The String Games, as I have enjoyed All of Gail’s writing. She writes with great skill, honesty, and a down-to-earthedness which the majority of us can connect with. A natural winner.
I found the style of writing more suitable for young teenagers than adults. Much of the text reflected the thoughts and vocabulary of a child and then a teenager, but I found it rather irritating. There are detailed descriptions of teenage feelings and behaviour which I found unnecessarily lengthy and repetitive. Whilst there are strong themes to the book, the plot is weak and often contrived.
A most enjoyable and engaging read… the various voices of the main protagonist created an authentic developing character. I found the journey from child to young adult interesting and intriguing. Highly recommended!
A story about how childhood experience lives on inside us, told with psychological insight, suspense and drama.
Wonderful to see this book do so well. I met Gail before this book was published as part of an event in which Devon Book Club was involved. I was sure then that it would do well and I’m delighted to see it shortlisted for this award
I loved this novel. The plotting was superb and the effects of such a traumatic event very sensitively worked through. It is beautifully written and a winner in my opinion.
As a reader from the US, I enjoyed the feeling of being immersed in the lives, language and activities of the characters in the story.
Gail Aldwin has written an incredibly rich novel. I encourage you to read it.
Delighted The String Games has made it to the finals. This has an unusual structure which works perfectly against the thriller-like setting. I found the children and teenagers completely believable. The author has portrayed them very movingly and you have to keep turning the pages hoping it will somehow work out for these characters. Superb ending.
A worthy winner!
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. The plot is well developed and characters are fully round. The cover is very clever.
The first thing that attracted me to this book was the clever design of the cover. I am a designer and illustrator. The novel is divided into three parts which are introduced by one figure of string games which is relevant to these parts. Believable characters and well narrated.
Profound – very well written.
Great read, as a writer myself, I think Gail’s work surpasses the limit of simple creativity.
Bravo Gail. With this brain power and skilful literature, you join the list of my influencers. You deserve special recognition.
I was given this book as a gift. Best present ever. Once I started I could not stop.
This was such an emotional read, and I loved it. I received a gifted copy of the book.
Am delighted ‘The String Games’ has made it to the finals. It’s an unusual story, but totally believable, through the dialogue, and most importantly, the characters who take you by the scruff of the neck into the heart of their problems, particularly into the difficult teenage world. I was both horrified and upset with the circle Nim, the main protagonist, finds herself caught in. And it was particularly heartbreaking to know and love little Josh’s exuberant personality and then to have him snatched away.
This book, in my opinion, deserves to win!
What I liked most about this novel – apart from the clever cover- was the structure the author gave it. It kept me guessing what had happened to Josh and hoping for a nice ending. Well done to Aldwin
Well written coming of age first novel. Believable characters.
This is a poignant, beautifully written and magnificently perceptive novel. Many congratulations to Gail Aldwin – and to the superb Victorina Press for publishing this extremely impressive work.
I read this in its kindle format but as soon as lockdown is over I want to get the physical book. The story is weaved skilfully and despite the terrible events narrated I enjoyed the whole experience of reading it. Aldwin managed to keep me hooked at all times, not something done easily with my PST.
Great first novel. Impressive.
Excellent book for researchers.
A compelling story told by a compassionate author
Good debut novel. Characters are believable. Although Imogen as a character needed more development, the whole novel is well written and kept me entertained for a week. Gail Aldwin deserves to win.
Q: “How long is a piece of string?” A: About eleven hours, because once I started reading I couldn’t stop. Gail has created a masterful coming of age tale that keeps you reading until the last page.
A difficult subject. Sensitively handled. Strong writing.