A fascinating moment in Cardiff’s history forms the basis of The Aerialists, by Cardiff-based author Katie Munnik. This fictionalised account reimagines the ill-fated journey of 14-year-old Louisa Maud Evans, who in the late 19th century tumbled from a hot air balloon over the Bristol Channel.
The story follows Laura, who is discovered in Paris by aerialists Ena and Auguste Gaudron and invited to join them in working for their hot air balloon business. After returning to London, they are offered the chance to exhibit in Cardiff’s Great Exhibition of 1896, where there is pressure to perform at the highest level. Here we are introduced to Grace Parry – known as Louisa Maud Evans – who is keen to join the adventures and perform, despite the risks involved.
When a book is set in a location that you’re familiar with, it’s always an added pleasure, offering the ability to bring the story to life, and The Aerialists is no different. Despite the historical descriptions of Cardiff offering a slightly different outlook to today, there’s still plenty to recognise from the city within the pages. A tragic tale of courage and adversity and the power of innovation and adventure, this moment in history makes for a moving story.
The Aerialists, Katie Munnik (The Borough Press)
Price: £14.99. Info: here
words RHIANON HOLLEY
Looking for something to do?
The Ultimate Guide to What’s on in Wales!