Fourth Estate is to publish a debut "reading group thriller" set against the politics of Brexit Britain entitled Darling, in May 2018.
Set over just six months, from June to December 2016, the novel centres on the clash between the protagonist, Darling, and her new white stepdaughter, Lola. Darling is determined to make things work with her new husband, Thomas, but teenager Lola has other ideas – and it takes only six months for things to go tragically wrong. Told in alternating chapters in Darling’s and Lola’s voices, Darling is set against the politics of Brexit Britain and full of issues, including racism, right-wing populism, mental health, and sexual abuse.
Author Rachel Edwards lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, step-daughter and step-son. She was inspired to write Darling after being subjected to racist abuse a few days after the 2016 EU referendum.
Anna Kelly, commissioning editor at 4th Estate, acquired world English and Film/TV rights to the title from Joanna Swainson at Hardman & Swainson.
Kelly said: "Darling and Lola are outstanding fictional creations and the skill with which Rachel Edwards conjures their contrasting voices and conflicting personalities announce her as a huge talent. Rachel has found a clever and original way to explore the current tensions in our country through the twists and turns of a riveting plot, and I am certain that this novel will attract a great deal of attention."
Katie Fulford, head of the recently formed film and TV team at HCUK, said: "Our team is delighted to have acquired Film/TV rights to Darling. We are building a small, focused slate of TV co-development and co-production projects that we truly believe in and as soon as we read Rachel’s submission, we knew that Darling had a place on it. With strong characters, a thrilling and timely plot and an already filmic style, it will make for truly compelling drama."
Edwards said: "I could not be more thrilled to be signed to 4th Estate, whose publications I have long admired. I'm looking forward to Darling being out in the world."
Translation rights will be handled by Thérèse Coen at Hardman & Swainson.