The Steam Whistle Theatre Company by Vivian French – Book Review

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company by Vivian French – Book Review

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company by Vivian French

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company

Author – Vivian French
Publisher – Walker Books
Pages – 304
Released – 7th February 2019
ISBN-13 – 978-1406376319
Format – ebook, paperback
Reviewer – Stacey
Rating – 4 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
This post contains affiliate links.


Dark and deadly deeds, piratical plots, lost heiresses and poor little orphans – Vivian French conjures up the very spirit of Victorian theatre in a fabulous new novel for middle-grade readers.

To avoid financial ruin, the Pringle family’s theatre-troupe has left London behind, travelling to the north of England by train. With new audiences to play to, and less competition, they hope to make enough money to pay off their debts back home. But will their plans be foiled by the odious Olio Sleevery? It’s time for young actors Rosie and Charlie to save the day – and, with the help of their new friend Edie Boiler, ensure the thunderous success of the company’s first performance.

Review new 2021

Victorian England – The Pringle family live and put on theatre shows in London. They have fallen on hard times and are struggling to make ends meet. One afternoon whilst discussing their situation the family decides it would be a good idea to travel north and put on a show like the northern’s have never seen before.

The family including Pa, Uncle Vinnie, Aunt Mags and children Rosie and Charlie take a relatively new invention and mode of transport they haven’t been on before, the train. They set off for new adventures and with a new name – ‘The Steam Whistle Theatre Company’. Unfortunately, they have to leave Ma Pringle and the little ones at home as they can’t afford their train tickets.

The family arrives in a place called Uncaster and head to the establishment that they are to play. Unfortunately, they discover that they don’t have any lodgings at the tavern. Luckily, widower, Ms. Poskett is looking for boarders for her home, Uncaster Hall. Her husband recently died leaving her with no money. The servants and staff have all upped and left taking the pots and pans with them and even her ungrateful children have run away to live with relatives. Only one staff member is left, Edie, a young workhouse girl who is every so helpful.

The Pringle family are not the only people in show business to venture into Uncaster – Baby Bubbles the child magician and escapologist has arrived to play at the supper rooms. Not quite so much as a baby anymore and with an attitude that is selfish and ungrateful the star has lots of demands. His mother though doesn’t welcome the competition of a travelling theatre group and sets out to destroy The Steam Whistle Theatre Companies reputation.

I love books set in Victorian England. It’s a period in history I love to learn and read about and this book just oozes that time period. The Pringle family are a large family but with times hard for actors they are struggling to make enough money to live on. They have never been ‘up north’ and are not sure what the place is like. They are pleasantly surprised when they arrive in Uncaster that it wasn’t as bad as they were expecting.

Each family member had their own personality and they all worked well together. My favourite character though had to be workhouse girl Edie. She reminded me of Eliza Doolittle with her accent even though she definitely wasn’t from London, she was born and bred in the North. She might have been a young girl, a teenager, but she’s been through a lot, seen a lot and knew how to handle herself and make a meal out of next to nothing.

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company is intriguing and moved at a fast pace. It was ever so enjoyable and I have to mention the cover too which is just delightful. This story is all about determination and families pulling together. It will also show you that even in dark times there can be a light at the end of the tunnel if you look and try hard enough.

Reviewed by Stacey

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About the Author

Vivian French

Vivian French is a highly acclaimed children’s author who has written more than 250 books during the course of her career, including Caterpillar, Butterfly, The Tales from the Five Kingdoms series and Yucky Worms. Her recent work includes The Most Wonderful Thing in the World, The Adventures of Alfie Onion and The Cherry Pie Princess.

Vivian teaches on the illustration course at Edinburgh School of Art, and helped to found the mentoring scheme Picture Hooks for aspiring young illustrators. In 2016 Viv was awarded the MBE for literature, literacy, illustration and the arts. She lives in Edinburgh.


The Steam Whistle Theatre Company

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10 Responses

  1. Bianca says:

    This looks like a good read. Thank you for the review!

  2. Tasha says:

    This sounds like a fabulous read. I will suggest it to my Niece as this sounds like something she would enjoy. 🙂

  3. Jordana Landsman says:

    I can’t wait until my kids are old enough for this level of fun!

  4. DJ Sakata says:

    This sounds delightful

  5. The cover looks like so much fun! I think this would be something right up my alley! Thank you for the review.

  6. It’s a great read. You’re welcome.

  7. It’s great when they get old enough for books you can enjoy together.

  8. I know the cover is so cute and the book is too.