Aria has acquired Phyllida Shrimpton's "truly special" debut adult novel, The Shape of Happiness, in a two-book deal.
The novel, which will be published by the Head of Zeus imprint in July 2022, follows a teenager who moves to her grandfather's house in Cornwall. The synopsis explains: "Suddenly uprooted from everything and everyone she knows, bubbly 15-year-old Anna Maybury and her mother are forced to move in with the grandfather Anna has never met: a bad-tempered old man who disapproves of her very existence.
"At 94, every day of Algernon’s life is broken up into a routine governed by the relentless ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece. It gives his life the structure and order he craves, but he’s also incredibly lonely. And soon, so is Anna. Her colourful personality doesn’t seem to fit in at her new school and she begins to feel herself turning as dull and grey as the uniform.
"Surprisingly, it’s cranky old Algernon who is determined to do something about it. With a road trip to Cornwall on the cards and important life lessons to learn, it’s going to be a summer neither of them will ever never forget. The Shape of Happiness is an emotional, uplifting read perfect for fans of Mike Gayle, Eva Woods and Marianne Cronin."
The publisher acquired English language rights from Broo Doherty at DHH Literary Agency. The Shape of Happiness will be published in hardback and e-book, with the second novel in the deal following in 2023.
Shrimpton’s novel Sunflowers in February (published February 2019) won the Red Book Award for YA Fiction. Commenting on her latest novel, she said: "I’m positively beaming that my venture into the world of adult fiction has resulted in a publishing deal with Aria, and that I shall be working with their dynamic team. Who knew that finding a letter written over 70 years ago would form the basis of my uplifting book about the relationship between an old man and his teenage granddaughter?"
Thorne Ryan, editorial director of Aria, said: "As soon as we started reading The Shape of Happiness, the whole team knew it was something truly special. It made us smile, cry and want to call our grandparents. We cannot think of a better book to mark Aria’s transition from Head of Zeus' digital list to our all-format centre of women’s fiction excellence."