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A new book, The Girl in the Van, by Cardiff-born author Helen Matthews is released next week (March 17th), writes Sophie Platt. And it features scenes from Rhiwbina!

The Girl in the Van is a psychological thriller novel. It is a tale of a distressed mother, Laura, trying to escape her past trauma involving her daughter, Ellie. Deciding to flee, Laura settles in London for a few years until she decides to purchase an old camper van to go on a singles holiday.

However, this is where she meets Miriana, a young girl with a “chilling resemblance” to her daughter. Will Laura find out the truth about what happened to Ellie, or will it remain a mystery forever?

A review by Katherine Johnson, author of The Suspect, says the book is “Beautifully written with clever twists and a thrilling ending. The Girl in the Van deserves huge success!”

The Girl in the Van is the newest novel by Helen Matthews. Brought up in Rhiwbina, Helen attended Rhiwbina Junior and Whitchurch High School. She later attended Liverpool University before settling in London for a few years. After a change of career, Helen and her family moved to Hampshire.

Helen is a keen cyclist, and she also sings in a choir, once performing at Carnegie Hall in New York. She is also an ambassador for Unseen UK, a charity which supports survivors of slavery and works towards ending slavery worldwide. She donates her author fees and a percentage of her earnings to the charity.

She also gives talks and readings at libraries, book groups, and other places. She has also featured on BBC Radio Breakfast and UK Talk Radio.

Even though she hasn’t lived in Wales for a while, it hasn’t left her, as she said “You can take the girl out of Wales but you can’t take Wales out of the girl”

Helen is extremely proud to be Welsh, and often features Welsh characters in her novels. The Girl in the Van also features locations in Wales, such as Penarth – the place Laura flees for London. Rhiwbina also plays a part in this story. Laura returns to South Wales to visit her mother after a two year estrangement, who lives in Rhiwbina, in a house that is similar to the house Helen herself lived in when she was a child.

Wales, especially Rhiwbina, still holds a very special place in Helen’s heart.

The Girl in the Van is out on March 17th. The kindle ebook is available to pre-order by clicking here, so head over to Amazon on or shortly after the publication date to get your copy. 

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