Aardvark Bureau, the world fiction imprint of Belgravia Books, has acquired Edward Carey’s "extraordinary picaresque novel" Little, based on the life story of the world’s most famous wax sculptor, Marie Tussaud.
Little is to be illustrated by Edward Carey’s "distinctive" pencil drawings.
Aardvark Bureau has acquired UK, Europe and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights from Isobel Dixon at Blake Friedmann.
Born Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in Alsace but known as ‘Little’ in the novel for her diminutive size, Marie started out in the household of Dr Philippe Curtius in Berne, Switzerland. A physician skilled in creating anatomical wax models, it was Curtius who taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling and took her to pre-revolutionary France.
At the age of 17, Marie became the art tutor to King Louis XVI’s sister, Madame Elisabeth, at Versailles. During the French Revolution she was imprisoned and narrowly escaped execution. She married François Tussaud in 1795 and later moved to London, where she set up her world-famous waxworks museum.
"Far from being a chamber of horrors, Edward Carey’s telling of Marie’s story is an affecting and exuberant Dickensian tale crossing countries and covering a tumultuous period in history, through the eyes of a cast of quirky and sympathetic characters. It is an unconventional love story, the tale of a woman’s rise to success against the odds, and a hymn to the strange beauty of the human body", the publisher said.
Carey first became fascinated by the story of Madame Tussaud while working at the London museum. He is the author of two previous works of literary fiction – Observatory Mansions (Picador) and Alva and Irva (Picador) – as well as the Iremonger Trilogy for young adults, beginning with Heap House (Hot Key Books).
Little will be published by Aardvark Bureau in autumn 2018, including illustrations by the author.
Aitken said: "There are so many reasons to be excited about publishing Little. Such an original novel which marries the Gallic and Aardvark lists perfectly – rich with French history, but written in English with Edward’s wit and pathos. And we are thrilled at the prospect of publishing Edward’s wonderful illustrations."
Carey said: "I'm absolutely thrilled to have Little published by Aardvark Bureau who know the French world so well, and who have been so enthusiastic about this story of a diminutive servant turned entertainment mogul. Aardvark is so inspiring to work with, full of ideas and enthusiasm, and with a tremendous encouragement have championed this novel spanning a big stretch of calamitous history told by a small bloodstained crumb... and they have let me populate it with pencil sketches. I couldn't be happier."