Penguin Michael Joseph has acquired a love story from Caroline Lea, author of The Glass Woman, about an island community torn apart by the arrival of outsiders.
Jillian Taylor, editorial director at Penguin Michael Joseph, acquired world rights for The Metal Heart from Nelle Andrew, literary agent at RML, to publish in 2021. Taylor has subsequently acquired two more books by Lea in a follow-up deal from Andrew.
Rights have already been acquired by Erin Wicks at Harper Collins in the US, who will publish The Metal Heart in June 2021.
Following Lea's 2019 novel The Glass Woman, which was shortlisted for the HWA Debut Crown, The Metal Heart, slated for 29th April 2021 in hardback, is a "darkly atmospheric" novel set in Orkney in the 1940s, against the backdrop of the Second World War.
"On a remote island, a prisoner-of-war camp is constructed to house 500 Italian soldiers," reads the book's synopsis. "Upon their arrival, the men are greeted by a freezing Orkney winter and a divided community, full of secrets and superstition. As tensions between the islanders and outsiders grow, the lives of two sisters and a prisoner-of-war will be set on a collision course, testing what makes us human during the darkest of times."
Taylor said: "Based on the true story of the building of the Orkney Wedding Chapel during the Second World War and set in a vanishing world of myth and superstition, The Metal Heart is an astonishing novel about an island community torn apart by the arrival of outsiders.
"Heartbreaking and thrilling in equal measure, Caroline has created a love story to rival Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I can’t wait for readers to be swept up in the lives of these damaged yet hopeful characters, to experience the exquisite beauty of art in war, and to be as moved by these extraordinary real-life events as I have been."
Lea said: "The novel really came to life when I saw the Italian Chapel in Orkney. I wanted to write a love story set in wartime and I was swept up by the beauty of the chapel: it is a breathtaking testimony to the hope that exists, even in the darkest of times. In the current, fractured climate, beautiful creations like the chapel act as reminders"