Hodder & Stoughton has pre-empted world rights in a debut novel These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper, and one further novel.
Senior editor Emma Herdman bought the books from Lucy Morris at Curtis Brown in her first deal for Hodder. Herdman, previously of Curtis Brown, had represented Cooper before her move to Hodder.
These Dividing Walls, due to be published in spring 2017, is described as a "contemporary Paris novel", set over a hot, politically troubled summer, as seen through the eyes of the various residents of an apartment block.
The book’s various characters intertwine and play out metres from one another. But at the heart of the novel is the relationship between a young Englishman, Edward, who has fled to Paris in the throes of grief after losing his sister; and Frederique, a glamorous bohemian who has lived in the apartments for most of her life, after encountering a loss of her own. The book culminates as political tensions reach "a boiling point" and the summer comes to "a tragic, tumultuous end".
Herdman said Cooper’s debut would offer the reader "a web of human stories against the backdrop of a Paris we don’t often read about, as observed by someone who lived there for three years".
Cooper grew up in London before reading English at Cambridge and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She spent three years in Paris writing a PhD about travelling eighteenth-century artists, and currently works in the curatorial department of a London museum.