|Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads|
Review by Suze
It's 1899 and life for a girl on her own isn't easy. Nansi doesn't know where her mother is. The last time they were together was on the day she ended up in the water at Cardiff docks. Nansi was rescued, but hasn't seen her mother since. She lives in a theatre where she works for Sid. She has to earn her keep by stealing and helping out with the shows. Sid has promised Nansi he'll save part of the money she makes, so she can hire a detective to find her mother. She isn't there yet though, will she ever be able to get the funds together?
Changes are being made at the theatre to attract a much needed bigger audience. Nansi needs to give up her bed and she has to help with a psychic show based on lies. When someone recognizes her because of her mother Nansi knows the time has come to fight for her future. Will she be able to find out what happened on that dreadful day she ended up in the water and when her eyes are finally being opened will she be able to uncover the truth?
Gaslight is a beautiful story about a brave and clever girl and her quest to find her mother. I loved Nansi from the start. She's resourceful, caring and also a little bit naive. She's an ideal main character for a gripping book and her adventures are fantastic. There are many interesting twists and turns and the story kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Nansi's dedication to find her mother is admirable and I liked her resilience. She never gives up and she's always there for the people she loves. Nansi is a terrific girl and I really enjoyed reading about her.
Gaslight is a fascinating book. Eloise Williams has chosen a perfect setting for her story. Cardiff in 1899 has an enchanting atmosphere and the theatre is fabulously worn and dark. It's a great place for secrets and its obscurity kept impressing me. Eloise Williams has a gorgeous writing style and her story is captivating from beginning to end. I already read this book twice, Gaslight is amazing and I know I will keep reading it over and over again. I love it when I've found a true gem. Eloise Williams has written a brilliant story, a wonderful book that I will treasure forever.
If you love reading beautiful, special stories for children Gaslight is an absolute must-read.
About Eloise Williams
Eloise used to be an actress but she’s alright now. Leaving behind the scars of her appearance as part of a fence at the Minack in Cornwall (where everyone skinny-dipped and she wore pants and vest) and shrugging off the screaming fans of her spellbinding portrayal of a flickering flame at the Barbican (where she unintentionally pirouetted into an audience member’s lap), Eloise has moved as far West in West Wales as it is possible to be.
Ensconced in Pembrokeshire, she studied for an MA in Creative and Media Writing at Swansea University and this time she got a 'D' for Distinction, instead of the 'D's she was more accustomed to at school.
Now holed up in the teeniest, tiniest cottage by the sea that she could find, Eloise lives with her long-suffering artist husband and her loyal (when-on-a-lead) dog, Watson Jones. Eloise’s life is made up of writing, salt and strange vowel sounds. She collects sea glass, sagely pretends to know about the tides and accidentally sings Welsh songs out loud on the beach. She sometimes pulls a serious face for photographs and does great windswept scarf.
Eloise is also to be writer in residence for three months at Oriel y Parc visitor centre in the Pembrokeshire National Park from April 2016.
Eloise's debut for 7+, Elen's Island, was published by Firefly Press in 2015 and went on to be picked out by Booktrust at Number 6 in their Advent Calendar of bookish treats for Christmas 2015. Her next (slightly older) upper middle grade novel, Gaslight was published in 2017, also by Firefly, and is a dark and atmospheric mystery set in the morbid, death-obsessed world of the Victorian theatre, because hey - you can take the girl out of the theatre, but.... you can follow her on Twitter - @eloisejwilliams.
1. Can you name three bookish facts about yourself?
When I was young I set up my own library in my bedroom. My childhood collection of books still has tickets and stamps inside them. My sister, mum and dad were my only customers.
When I get good news about something bookish I go and sit in a rockpool on my local beach to celebrate.
I wear Agatha Christie earrings.
2. The main setting of Gaslight is a dark theatre, what inspired you to choose this setting?
I originally trained as a Drama teacher and as part of my course I studied Victorian theatre. I then went on to be an actor for over a decade so I spent lots of time waiting about in backstage areas and dressing rooms. I got to see some real Victorian theatres and the difference between the audience area and the performers quarters can be astonishing - some of them are dark, dank, dingy and more than a bit creepy. I thought it would make the perfect setting for a mystery thriller.
3. Your book is set at the end of the 19th century, what's so fascinating about that time?
Everything! I have been fascinated by this era since I was a child. There is something about the Dickensian squalor and foggy streets that appeals to me as a writer. Also, it was a great time of change with the turn of the Century approaching, so it’s the perfect time for Nansi (my main protagonist) to be questioning women’s rights, a topic I have a firm interest in.
4. Could you describe your main characters in 6 words each?
Nansi – Feisty. Smart. Imaginative. Inventive. Courageous. Strong.
Pernicious Sid – Acidic. Crafty. Ambitious. Narcissistic. Controlling. Broken.
5. What do you like the most about writing for children?
I love being able to play with words. To play with stories. I think as adults we often forget how to play.
6. Water plays an important role in your story, what's the most special thing about it?
Lots of things are special about it for me but I think the most special thing is its power. It can mean death or life. Captivity or freedom. Horror or beauty.
7. Where do you read and where do you write?
I’m very lucky to live in a cottage very close to the sea. I have a reading platform – which is just a bunch of old pallets painted up – where I can sit and look out of my garden over the bay. It’s the most beautiful spot to read in and I can then dash into my writing shed to work on stories if I need to. I’m a nature lover. so for me it’s perfection to be able to combine my working time with sea and garden-gazing.
8. Do you have any good advice for children who want to become an author?
Absolutely! Read. Read lots. And then read some more. Also, you can be an author at any age so get scribbling and let your imagination fly.
9. You're from Wales and your story is set in Cardiff, what's the most magical thing about the city?
I was born in Cardiff and spent lots of time there as a child, then I worked and went to college in the city centre. It’s a friendly and diverse place. There’s a multicultural feeling to it and there’s always something to do and see. I think that’s the most special thing for me, the way so many people live and work and have fun together. It’s a magical thing to see and be a part of, and I go back there to see friends and family as often as I can.
10. What are your plans for the future?
I am currently working on my next MG novel - a salty, windswept ghost story set in Pembrokeshire where I now live. Watch this space....
Two very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a signed copy of Gaslight.
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.