Summary from Goodreads
Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
Eight-year-old Grace is last seen in a sweetshop. Her mother Emma is living a nightmare. But as her loved ones rally around her, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the emails sent between her husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is there more to the disappearance of her daughter than meets the eye?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees a familiar face in the newspaper. A face that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…
This is a gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist that will take your breath away.
If 99 Red Balloons were made into a film, who would I choose for the main characters?
by Elisabeth Carpenter
Stephanie is a character who is quietly strong and always there for her family. Although she is supporting her sister through a terrible time, she feels she’s always been second best in the family dynamic after her sister, Emma – especially since their father died.
I think Joanne Froggatt would be a great actress to play Stephanie. She portrayed her character’s vulnerability as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey so well, but also showed toughness and a no-nonsense attitude in her role of Zoe Tattersall in Coronation Street.
Emma is going through what every parent has nightmares about. She is the one more outwardly suffering, who the surrounding family feels they have to nurture. I loved Jodie Whittaker’s portrayal of Beth Latimer in Broadchurch. I think the emotion she conveyed would be apt for the character given the similarity of Beth and Emma’s situations.
Matt is also going through a traumatic time, but he demonstrates this with frustration and anger towards whoever took his daughter. He is at pains with himself that he wasn’t there for Grace, but of course there’s nothing he could have done.
I think James Norton would be brilliant at playing Matt – he’s such a versatile actor. As we don’t know if we can trust Matt, I think the darker side he portrayed in Happy Valley would be perfect. Matt is very close to his daughter. As a viewer, we saw Norton in the more caring role of Duncan Grant in the BBC drama Life in Squares.
Maggie is my favourite character in 99 Red Balloons. Some of her chapters were the hardest to write, and often evoked a lot of emotion whilst writing.
I absolutely love Brenda Blethyn in Vera and Anne Reid in Last Tango in Halifax, but I think Maggie Ollerenshaw from Open All Hours would be perfect because:
1. She’s also called Maggie.
2. She looks just like how I imagined Maggie (although a lot younger).
3. She was born in Preston, where Maggie lives.
4. She is the voice of 99’s Maggie for the audio book.
You can’t get any more coincidental than that!
Milly (Steph and Emma’s mother)
Milly is a complex character. Half the time the reader wonders what is going through her mind. Her personality can switch from being calm, collected and caring, to unpredictable and volatile. Although she is much younger than Milly, I think Sarah Lancashire would be spot-on to play her.
Everyone who watched Coronation Street in the 1990s would know Lancashire as Raquel Wolstenhulme – although Milly in 99 Red Balloons is never as vulnerable and kind as Raquel! The hardness of Milly’s character can be seen in Lancashire’s roles in Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax.