Vintage imprint Chatto & Windus has snapped up Rose Tremain’s latest novel Islands of Mercy.
Clara Farmer, publishing director at Chatto & Windus, acquired volume and audio rights in the UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) from Caroline Michel at Peters Fraser + Dunlop.
Slated for publication in May 2020, Islands of Mercy marks Tremain’s return to fiction following her 2018 memoir Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life (Vintage), which was chosen as a Sunday Times Book of the Year.
Islands of Mercy follows heroine Jane Adeane in Bath in 1865, an “extraordinary young woman” torn between her dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor, and Sir Ralph Savage who sees his schemes in Borneo “relentlessly undermined by his own fragility, by man’s innate greed and by the invasive power of the forest itself”.
“As these two dramas become locked together across the globe, the novel unfolds its universal theme – how the human spirit endlessly searches for places of sanctuary in a pitiless world,” said the publisher. “Once again, Rose Tremain explores bold new ideas in new fictional territory,” said the publisher.”
Farmer said Islands of Mercy “marks a high point” of Tremain’s career. She added: “Islands of Mercy is an utterly captivating novel, filled with scenes of jaw-dropping drama. Sexual pleasure, ugly violence, the consequences of Empire and the demands of creativity – all have their part to play in a story set in the past which speaks to many burning issues in the present.
“It is Rose Tremain’s immense talent to transport her readers through time and space. Islands of Mercy is a novel to light up the senses, from the lemon-drizzle cake at Miss Morrissey’s Victorian tea shop to the parakeets snickering in the banana trees in Borneo… travelling via the fancy-dress shops of Paris and slums of Dublin en route.”
Tremain said: “The writing of Islands of Mercy was rather like embarking on a long ocean voyage, where the seas rarely calmed and the sun only intermittently shone. I’m still stumbling from it, like an exhausted sailor. But now I’ve reached the safe harbour of Chatto/Vintage, where a celebratory flag has been run up the editorial mast. I couldn’t be more pleased.”