Doubleday has made a “substantial” six-figure pre-empt on a debut novel by academic and comedian Marianne Cronin about two women who meet at an art class.
Jane Lawson, Doubleday editorial director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to the debut novel The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot last week from Sue Armstrong at C&W in a 36-hour pre-empt for two books. The deal was a “substantial six-figure” deal, Doubleday said. Armstrong had first discovered the manuscript in her unsolicited pile. The debut will be published in early summer 2021, with a currently untitled novel to follow.
Rights have already been snapped up at auction or pre-empt to HarperCollins US, Fayard in France, Planeta in Spain, Mondadori in Italy, United Sky in China, Baltos Lankos in Lithuania and, concluding a seven-way auction in Germany, to Penguin Verlag. It is also under offer or at auction in Sweden, Hungary and Romania so far.
Doubleday said: “The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot tells the story of a friendship between two extraordinary women, one young and one old, both terminally ill, who meet unexpectedly in art class. As their unlikely friendship blossoms, Lenni and Margot realise that between them they have lived for 100 years. With the help of Lenni’s cherry-haired nurse and gentle Father Arthur, the two friends determine to leave something everlasting behind: one hundred paintings showcasing their one hundred years. As they work together in the art room and from their hospital beds, Lenni and Margot share, and paint, the stories of the lives that led them to their serendipitous meeting.
"Hugely affecting and witty, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a rarely affecting novel that expresses universal truths in the most unforgettable way.”
Lawson said: “I was so moved by the beauty and simplicity of this story that confronts life, death and love with such poise and humour. Deceptively simple and highly expressive – like the most exquisite of illustrations –it shows how curiosity, courage and an open heart can take you to unexpected places, even when it all seems too late. The book’s power, delicacy and emotion has profoundly affected all of us here at Transworld Publishers. Marianne Cronin is a novelist with a bold, fresh, mesmerising voice. I cannot wait to publish her here.”
Armstrong added: “Marianne’s exceptional debut came to me on the unsolicited pile and instantly blew me away. As I turned the pages of this novel I fell in love (many times), had my heart broken, my perspective transformed, cried - but laughed more - and ultimately came away uplifted and desperate for others to meet the unforgettable duo of Lenni and Margot. For Marianne to land with the phenomenal team of Jane Lawson and Doubleday is hugely exciting.”
“When my amazing agent Sue rang with Jane’s offer, I had to sit down because my legs were shaking,” said Cronin. “I know that Jane loves Lenni and Margot and their mad world as much as I do and am hugely excited by what’s to come.
Cronin was born in 1990 and brought up in Kenilworth. She lives in Birmingham where she recently completed a PhD in Applied Linguistics examining the link between language and humour in fiction. She has been published in Mslexia and The Ad Alta Journal of Literature. She currently works as a lecturer in Higher Education. In her free time she performs improv comedy with Birmingham-based comedy group ‘Box of Frogs’.