Bonnier Zaffre is publishing Shelter, a debut novel by Sarah Franklin, senior lecturer in publishing at Oxford Brookes.
Eleanor Dryden, publishing director at Bonnier Zaffre, acquired UK and commonwealth rights to two books by Franklin from Juliet Pickering at Blake Friedman at auction.
Franklin runs literary event Short Stories Aloud at Blackwell's Bookshop in Oxford and is also a judge for the Costa Book Awards Short Story prize for the second year running.
Her debut, Shelter, is about a spirited young woman escaping bombed-out Coventry in WWII to work as a lumberjill within a reclusive community in the Forest of Dean. She is nursing a secret and running from a tragic past, including a life-defining decision publishers say "will resonate with so many readers".
Dryden called the debut "a female story that needs to be told", praising the author for her characterisation and the story's "thought-provoking surprises at every turn".
"I could feel the forest living and breathing around me as I was engrossed in the stories of Connie and Italian POW Seppe," she said. "Connie is refreshing, appealing and delightfully flawed – I was rooting for her from the first page and she’s still with me. This is a female story that needs to be told and I remember so clearly how affected I felt when I finished it for the first time and desperately needed to talk to someone about it."
Pickering added: "Having known Sarah as a wonderful champion of stories over the last few years, I was so happy when she wrote an incredible debut novel. Connie’s voice is bold yet vulnerable; she’s a wonderfully unpredictable character in a rich setting, and the repercussions of her decisions are heart-breaking. Everyone will be talking about Shelter next summer, and I can’t wait."
Shelter will publish in summer 2017.