Hodder & Stoughton has acquired The Heiress by Molly Greeley, an "LGBTQ+ reimagining" of the life of the Pride and Prejudice character Anne de Bourgh.
Commissioning editor Thorne Ryan bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Laura Williams at Greene & Heaton on behalf of Jennifer Weltz at JVNLA, with Morrow publishing in the US.
The novel, described as "beautifully written" and "sparklingly rebellious", takes one of Pride and Prejudice’s least developed characters, Anne de Bourgh, out from the shadows and into the light.
The synopsis reads: "As a fussy baby, Anne was prescribed laudanum to quiet her and has been given the opium-heavy syrup ever since, on account of her continuing ill health. While her mother is outraged when Darcy chooses not to marry Anne, as has been long planned, Anne can barely raise her head to acknowledge the fact. But little by little, she comes to see that what she has always been told is an affliction of nature might in fact be one of nurture—and one, therefore, that she can beat. In a frenzy of desperation, she throws away her laudanum and seeks refuge at the London home of her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Suddenly wide awake to the world but utterly unprepared, Anne must forge a new identity for herself among those who have never seen the real her—including herself."
Greeley, who is based in northern Michigan, has reimagined the lives of the characters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice before. Her debut The Clergyman’s Wife (Viking), published earlier this year, continued the story of Charlotte Lucas after the events of Pride and Prejudice.
Greeley commented: "I am thrilled that The Heiress has found a home at such a venerable and respected publisher as Hodder, and am so happy that Anne de Bourgh’s story will be in the hands of UK readers."
Ryan said: "The Heiress is truly special. In the vast canon of Austen-lit, Molly Greeley not only reclaims the story of an entirely new character, she also provides a very welcome new approach to, and insight into, romance in Regency society. Her writing is stunning: lyrical and smooth, it carries you along with it effortlessly and is a joy to read. I’ve read lots of Austen-lit in my time, and The Heiress is firmly among the best of it. I cannot wait to publish it on my list at Hodder."
The book is due to publish in e-book in January 2021, in hardback in April 2021, and in paperback in January 2022.