Sphere Fiction has won a "hotly-contested" six-way auction to publish Eva Woods' "life-affirming" story of love, loss and female friendship, How to be Happy, in October 2017.
The novel tells the story of Annie, who has to relearn the habit of happiness from her new friend Polly, who happens to be terminally ill.
Deputy publisher for Sphere fiction Maddie West acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in two books from Diana Beaumont at United Talent.
West said: "It’s very rare to find an author who can make you laugh and cry on the same page, and yet Eva makes it look easy. Annie and Polly’s story is a glorious, life-affirming reminder that we should all be kinder to ourselves and to others, and I’m immensely proud to be publishing it."
Eva Woods is author Claire McGowan's pen name for contemporary women's fiction, which she adopted in 2015 for The Thirty List, published with Harlequin UK's Mills & Boon imprint, and The Ex Factor, which MIRA publishes tomorrow. She said: "I'm thrilled to be working with the amazing team at Sphere, and can't wait to share Polly and Annie's story with more people."
Beaumont added: "As soon as Eva told me about this book I knew it would be something special – it takes her writing to another level. There has been such a passionate response to this moving, inspiring story of love, loss and friendship across the board and I cannot wait for it to get into the hands of readers. I have every confidence that Maddie and her colleagues at Little, Brown will make it the huge success it deserves to be."
How to be Happy will be published in October 2017. It has also been sold to Harlequin US, to Blanvalet in Germany, pre-empted by Keter in Israel and has had further offers in from Spain and Italy to date.