Hodder signs 'up-lit' debut about a 79-year-old retiree

Hodder signs 'up-lit' debut about a 79-year-old retiree

Hodder & Stoughton has acquired a debut novel of "uplifting, feel-good" women’s fiction, centred on a 79-year-old retiree's unexpected journey of self-discovery.

Senior editor Emily Kitchin acquired UK and Commonwealth rights including translation (excluding Australia and New Zealand) to Joanna Nell’s "heartwarming" debut novel, The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village, plus a second novel, from Sarah Brooks at Hachette Australia.

Kitchin said the book's 79-year-old protagonist, Peggy Smart, was "a warm and relatebale heroine" who went to show "characters don’t need to be a particular age to be relatable and vibrant".

The plot paints a picture of a woman whose life is "as beige as the décor in her retirement village", enlivened only by her daily sightings of her handsome 80-year-old neighbour, Brian Cornell. Peggy dreams of inviting him to an intimate dinner, but why would Brian, an accountant no less, look twice at a woman like Peggy? When Peggy runs into a glamorous old school friend, she realises it's time to channel her "inner Helen Mirren" and start growing old disgracefully.

"The result is a gorgeous story which reminds us that it’s never too late to seize the day," said Kitchin. "The success of novels like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things means that ‘up-lit’ is having a real moment right now, and I can’t think of a book more uplifting and life-affirming than Joanna’s brilliant debut."

Nell, who is a Sydney-based author and GP, commented: "Hodder & Stoughton’s enlightened and enthusiastic reception for my cast of seasoned characters is proof that older women are finally stepping away from the more traditional supporting roles in fiction and finding a voice for their own unique and wonderful stories."

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement VIllage will publish in e-book on 25th September 2018 and in hardback and trade paperback on 24th January 2019.