Michael Joseph has acquired The Butterfly Waltz and one other title by debut author Julie Owen Moylan at auction.
Editorial director Clio Cornish acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Nelle Andrew at the Rachel Mills agency.
The novel is set across two different decades in New York, the 1950s and 70s, and is described as "a tender and evocative novel about what it means to be different, and a celebration of love’s complexity, cruelty and resilience".
According to the publisher's synopsis, the novel opens in 1970s New York, where a young woman, Ava, is left alone after her mother suffers a psychotic breakdown. On the day of her mother’s departure, a box arrives at their apartment which contains a photograph of two women – one of whom has ‘LIAR’ scrawled across her face.
In the same apartment in 1955, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers, afraid to reveal their true feelings for one another. But when a strange guest discovers the truth about their relationship, it opens up their little world – and sets in motion a devastating chain of events which threatens everything they hold dear.
Earmarked as a "major launch" title, Michael Joseph will publish the book in hardback, e-book and audio in spring 2022, with a paperback to follow.
Cornish added: "Julie writes with flawless authenticity, weaving an emotional and insightful plot into a sensational backdrop – from the sweltering 1970s sidewalks to the smoky underground clubs of the 1950s, each page comes alive. Exploring love, loss, mental health and forgiveness, this novel is a remarkably rich and powerful read, and Julie is a wonderful writer. I am thrilled to be working with Nelle and welcoming Julie to Michael Joseph, and I can’t wait to share The Butterfly Waltz with the world."
Owen Moylan's short stories and articles have appeared in New Welsh Review, Horizon Literary Review, and The Voice of Women in Wales Anthology. She has also written and directed several short films as part of her MA in Film. Her graduation short film, called "BabyCakes", scooped a best film award at the Swansea Film Festival, Ffresh, and the Celtic Media Awards. She has an MA in Creative Writing and is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course.
She said: "I’m so excited to start working with Clio and the fantastic team at MJ. I have to say a huge thanks to my brilliant agent Nelle for all her love and support and for making this happen. I am blessed to work with a team of amazing creative women and I cannot wait for everyone to get to know Ava and Dovie and to fall in love with their story."