Chatto & Windus has signed an "unflinching" new novel from Sadie Jones called The Snakes, telling the story of a marriage and a family whose sins come back to bite them.
Publishing director Clara Farmer, who dubbed it a pacy novel of "tight plot turns and urgent moral questioning", acquired UK & Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights from Caroline Wood at Felicity Bryan Associates Literary Agency for publication in March 2019.
According to Chatto The Snakes marks "an exciting new direction" for the author, 2008's Costa First Novel award-winner for The Outcast, with her latest work seeing her embrace a contemporary setting for the first time.
At the book's heart is Bea and Dan, a young married couple living in a tiny flat in London with a huge mortgage, who decide to run away to Europe for three months to take stock of their lives. When they arrive to stay with Bea’s brother in his run-down hotel in France, they are disturbed to find Alex all alone, and the ramshackle hotel deserted apart from the nest of snakes in the attic. All their plans are ruined when they lose the tenant for their flat and Bea’s estranged parents come to stay at the hotel, triggering a series of events, and ultimately a tragedy, that strips the family back to its rotten core.
"Sadie Jones has an access to her character’s motivations that is breathtaking, and her power to hold the reader — with tight plot turns and urgent moral questioning — is without equal," said Farmer. "Her unflinching portrayal of Bea, in particular, is nothing short of bravura. The pace of this incredible novel never once lets up, driving to a devastating finish."
Jones commented: "If The Snakes feels dangerous it’s because we — people, normal people — are at risk when we are surrounded by corruption. I wanted to write a heroic woman who just by being is endangered by the forces that surround her. It feels an urgent story to tell these days."