Weidenfeld & Nicolson is publishing a literary memoir of recovery from anorexia by freelance writer Laura Freeman, called The Reading Cure, after a three-publisher auction.
W&N acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit. The book will be edited by editor Holly Harley and publish in February 2018 in hardback and e-book.
Freeman was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 14, in 2002, striking different foods out from her diet one by one until she was starving. But it was her love of reading that saw her through, say W&N, even helping her to restore her capacity to enjoy food – and life – through literature.
"Unfamiliar words in Dickens made the meals associated with them more savoury; the wounded Robert Graves’ appreciation of a pair of greengages changed the way she thought about plenty and choice; Virginia Woolf's evocation of a disordered mind was as comforting as her painterly descriptions of bread, blackberries and biscuits. Book by book, meal by meal, Laura developed an appetite and discovered an entire library of reasons to live," said W&N.
Freeman's editor, Harley, said the memoir was "inspirational, honest and ultimately uplifting account of recovery and the restoration of hope after illness, as well as a gorgeous collection of literary gems”.
The book will be Freeman's first. She read history of art at Cambridge, graduating with a double first in 2010, and writes for the Spectator, Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Standpoint, TLS, Evening Standard and Slightly Foxed.
Freeman said: “I am delighted that The Reading Cure will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. My editors understood the book from the first pitch and encouraged me with thoughtfulness and wisdom. It was a joy to return to Dickens, Woolf and Laurie Lee as I wrote each chapter, and a great release to finally put my thoughts on a long illness into words.”