Discovery of 100-year-old gardener’s notebook inspires debut novel

Discovery of 100-year-old gardener’s notebook inspires debut novel

Usborne has acquired The Garden of Found and Lost, a debut middle-grade novel based on the discovery of a 100-year-old gardener’s notebook at the National Trust’s Ickworth house in Suffolk.

The book, by Ann-Marie Howell, is set in 1916 and is about 12-year-old Clara, who is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle at Gardener’s Cottage in the grounds of a country estate. Clara soon discovers her surroundings hold secrets, including a locked room and hidden key and a boy who only appears at night.

Rebecca Hill, editorial fiction director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Lydia Silver on behalf of Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency.                           

Hill said: “A real buzz took over the Usborne office when The Garden of Found and Lost arrived. Ann‐Marie's tightly‐woven and highly atmospheric novel is crammed with secrets and mystery against a wartime backdrop; we were transported immediately back to 1916, and to the Gardener's Cottage, nestled in the grounds of the sprawling Earl's estate. Here, children outwit secretive adults, find adventure and danger in the shadows of the hothouses with oodles of courage needed at every turn, and come to find the true power of friendship. We can't wait to share this novel far and wide.”

Howell is a graduate of the 2015 Curtis Brown Creative Writing for Children course, where she was tutored by Catherine Johnson.     

The Garden of Found and Lost will publish in July 2019, followed by a second historical stand‐alone in 2020.