Orion has snapped up rights to Faber Academy graduate Rebecca Ley's "achingly sad" debut.
Orion Fiction publishing director Clare Hey bought UK and Commonwealth rights to For When I'm Gone from Sophie Lambert of Conville and Walsh. Nieuw Amsterdam pre-empted Dutch rights and there is ongoing interest elsewhere, said Orion.
"When Sylvia is diagnosed with terminal cancer at 38, she knows that she must help her husband Paul navigate the chaos of family life in her absence. So she starts to write a manual: a guidebook to their shared domesticity," said Orion. "But as Paul learns to live and love without Sylvia, he discovers that not all was as it seemed in their marriage. And as Sylvia’s secrets start to unravel, he finds himself indebted once more to his extraordinary, difficult wife, for saving them from what could have been an even greater tragedy. For When I’m Gone is about what it means to leave life unfinished, as well as the compromises of a marriage and motherhood. A novel about love and grief and living; inspiring and heart-breaking in equal measure, this debut marks Rebecca out as a stunning new talent."
Hey said: "I have been looking for a novel which is unafraid to tackle issues of death and grief, and which taps into readers’ desire for emotionally powerful storytelling. And For When I’m Gone does just that. Rebecca’s writing is full of hope and joy as well as sadness and loss and I am so excited to be bringing this wonderful novel to readers."
Lambert added: "My heart broke when I first read For When I’m Gone. But as well as being achingly sad, it is inspiring and lyrical, and, more than anything else, true in the way that few novels are. I’m thrilled that Clare Hey and the brilliant Orion Fiction team will share this very special novel with the world."
Ley, a journalist, writing for various newspapers including the Times and the Guardian, is a graduate of the Faber Academy and lives in London with her husband and three children. She wrote Doing It For Dad – a series of columns for the Family section at the Guardian, which chronicled her father’s life with dementia.
She said: "I'm so thrilled to be working with Orion. It really is a dream come true. Clare Hey instantly understood what I was trying to achieve with For When I'm Gone. And I couldn't ask for a better advocate than my outstanding agent, Sophie Lambert, who has been such an unwavering source of support and good advice. All our lives are touched at some point by complex family relationships, illness and death. We can't escape these realities, yet life remains the most amazing gift. I wanted to explore these themes in a novel and really hope it resonates with readers."