Doubleday has acquired novel Great Circle plus a story collection by author Maggie Shipstead, in a "major" six-figure deal. Shipstead's debut, Seating Arrangements, won the Dylan Thomas Prize.
Jane Lawson acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to the new book, including audio, from Grainne Fox of Fletcher and Co for Rebecca Gradinger.
Great Circle tells the story of a 1940s female aviator and a Hollywood actor, concentrating on the lives of two women "who refuse to conform to the strictures of their time".
The synopsis reads: "The epic life of 1940s daredevil aviator Marian Graves who attempts to fly the Great Circle from pole to pole and whose plane disappears mid-flight intersects with the troubled millennial Hollywood starlet who plays her in her biopic. Spanning Prohibition-era Montana, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New Zealand, wartime London, Antarctica and modern-day Los Angeles, Great Circle is a mighty novel about the driving impulse for freedom, about war and aviation, about Hollywood and about telling stories."
Publishing on Transworld’s Doubleday imprint in hardback in May 2021, Lawson said she was already aware of Shipstead's "distinct and dazzling voice" as an admirer of her earlier work.
Lawson said: "Great Circle struck me with the force of its voice, its emotional intensity and its depth. Maggie’s prose is fearless and graceful, her characters float indelibly and unapologetically in your imagination, enduring nothing by halves. In pursuit of their freedom, they fall recklessly in love, they search and self-destruct and rise up again. Great Circle is a novel that shows what great writers can do. It is also a stirring love letter to our planet. Doubleday are immensely proud to be publishing Maggie for whom we have the highest ambitions come summer 2021."
Shipstead says: “Great Circle is the story of an aviator, Marian Graves, who tries to square the infinity of the sky with the scale of a human life, and an actor, Hadley Baxter, who finds out that no story is ever whole. I’m thrilled to be part of the team and tradition at Doubleday, among so many authors I admire, and I’m hopeful this book will resonate with our collective yearning for movement and freedom."
Knopf will publish in the US.