Faber is to publish The Madonna of the Mountains, a "deeply affecting" novel by Elise Valmorbida in 2018.
Editorial director Louisa Joyner acquired UK & Commonwealth rights excluding Canada with Europe from Clare Alexander at Aitken Alexander Associates.
Set in Veneto, the novel begins in 1923 and spans a family across three generations. It is a "deeply affecting" account of one woman’s life and one woman’s war. Valmorbida grew up an Italian in Australia and lives in London.
Alexander said: "On Monday 26th September I submitted a very special novel, The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida, to a carefully selected group of editors. At 12 past 10 that night I received the first of many passionate emails from Louisa Joyner about how much she was loving it. On Tuesday 27th Faber made a two-book pre-emptive offer. On Wednesday 28th author and editor met, and by close of business that day we had a deal. Elise is a unique talent and I am confident that this fierce, earthy account of one woman’s fight for her family’s survival in Italy during the war has found its perfect champion in Louisa and the perfect UK publisher in Faber & Faber."
Valmorbida said: "If you'd asked me to name my dream publisher, I'd have said Faber & Faber. Now, thanks to the inspirational Louisa Joyner, it's happening: my dream publisher is publishing my book! I go to bed and I wake up, and it's still true."
Joyner said: "When I first began to talk to Stephen Page and Mitzi Angel about the kind of novel I wanted to find for Faber & Faber I remember saying 'I would love to publish a 21st century Gone With the Wind. A novel that speaks to the resilience, fortitude and grace – not to say utter pragmatism – at the heart of so many families, villages, marriages and souls, celebrated elegantly in finely-wrought prose.' So I couldn’t believe my luck when I started to read the utterly beautiful Madonna of the Mountains. I would have moved a mountain to publish Elise and I cannot wait to share this glorious novel with the wider world."