HarperCollins' Borough Press has acquired world English language rights to a debut novel by Charlotte Philby, described as "an irresistible combination of espionage and domestic suspense". Charlotte Philby is the granddaughter of double agent Kim Philby, one of the Cambridge spy ring.
Borough's Ann Bissel bought The Most Difficult Thing in a one-book deal struck with Julia Silk at MBA Literary Agents and will publish in hardback in spring 2020.
The Most Difficult Thing is set between London and a Greek island, and opens at the moment Anna walks out on her life with her husband and six-year-old twins. "With elements of The Night Manager and Apple Tree Yard, the novel is an irresistible combination of espionage and domestic suspense, in which Philby questions the nature of family and belonging, explores the power of knowledge and offers an insight into a world in which fact is stranger than fiction," says the publisher.
Now a contributing editor and writer at Marie Claire, Charlotte worked for the Independent for eight years, as a columnist, editor and reporter. She is also founder of the online platform Motherland.net.
Bissell said: “When Julia first told me about Charlotte’s novel I instantly knew I had to publish it. The Most Difficult Thing beautifully combines the claustrophobia of domestic suspense with the pace of a classic spy thriller, but ultimately it is the deeply moving story of Anna, whose life is defined by a tragic accident, that forms the heart of the book. Charlotte has a brilliant writing career ahead of her and I am so thrilled she chose Borough Press to publish her debut novel.”
Philby added:“It's been a hugely gratifying process working with my agent, Julia Silk, who instantly understood what I was trying to achieve with The Most Difficult Thing, and has been an unwavering mentor and ally throughout the process. As a journalist, I understand the importance a great editor, and I am utterly thrilled to have found just that in Ann Bissell, and the team at Borough Press. I couldn't be happier.”