Michael Joseph will publish a debut literary suspense novel about Munchausen syndrome by proxy, The Recovery of Rose Gold, by former copywriter Stephanie Wrobel following an eight-way auction.
Madeleine Milburn sold UK and Commonwealth rights with audio for two books to Maxine Hitchcock, publishing director at Michael Joseph.
The deal followed an eight-publisher auction, as part of “unprecedented response” to the title, Milburn said. It will be the lead debut on Michael Joseph’s list for 2020.
Meanwhile the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency sold US rights were snapped up by Amanda Bergeron at Penguin (Berkley) in an undisclosed pre-emptive offer late Friday night (8th March) with Canadian rights also sold, along with “a significant” pre-empts in Germany, Italy, with the highest pre-empt the agency in Hungary. The agency is expecting imminent offers from the rest of the world including Brazil, France, Holland, Poland, Greece and Scandinavia with the foreign deals tied up by rights director Liane-Louise Smith and agent Alice Sutherland-Hawes.
The Recovery of Rose Gold is the story of a young woman who, despite being slowly poisoned by her mother for 18 years, makes a calculated decision to take her in after her prison sentence. Told from both Patty and Rose Gold’s points of view, across two timelines, Wrobel “manages to evoke sympathy as well as terror in equal measure” in this exploration of Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP), Milburn said.
“There are a handful of books in a career that come along that inspire such passion and confidence that you simply know you have to publish it,” Hitchcock said. The Recovery of Rose Gold is so distinctive, so clever, so surprising, so skilfully written, so widely appealing – I honestly couldn’t believe I was in the hands of a debut writer.
“There aren’t many characters who make an immediate and lasting impact and stay with the reader long after the book has finished—but Stephanie has certainly done that here, twice—and we can’t wait to introduce readers to the unforgettable Patty and Rose Gold Watts.”
Milburn said: “Stephanie is set to be a huge talent exploring challenging topics that are universally fascinating. This is such an original exploration of the aftermath of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and will appeal to all the global big hitters including Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby, Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin.”
Wrobel commented: “The perpetrators of MSBP are usually mothers— interesting in itself since women commit far fewer violent crimes than men. I also find the inability to pin down MSBP quite intriguing; is it a mental illness, plain-and-simple child abuse, or somewhere in between?
"Patty is the character who drew me into the story. I wanted to get inside her head and understand how people with MSBP are able to fool doctors, neighbors and especially their own children.”
She added: "‘Maxine and her team blew me away with their creativity and passion, and I’m so excited to work with them to bring The Recovery of Rose Gold to readers."
Wrobel grew up in Chicago but has spent the last three years in the UK and is based in London. As well as an MFA from Emerson College, she has had short fiction published in Bellevue Literary Review, and was nominated for the 2018 PEN/Robert J Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. Before turning to fiction, she worked as a creative copywriter at various advertising agencies.