Penguin wins eight-way auction for novel

Penguin has won an eight-way auction, paying a six-figure sum for a "major novel" by prize-winning author Rhidian Brook.

Viking commissioning editor Will Hammond bought UK and Commonwealth rights including Europe in The House at Kreis Pinneberg from Caroline Wood at Felicity Bryan Associates. The novel was bought on the basis of a 58-page partial at auction with seven other houses.

The novel, published in spring 2013, tells the story of a "good-hearted British colonel" stationed in Hamburg in 1946, whose wife and son come to live with him after several years apart. He insists they share the house that has been requisitioned for them with its German inhabitants, a grieving widower and his traumatised daughter, and an unexpected love affair takes place.

Hammond said: "This is a masterfully constructed story that explores the most powerful moral dilemmas: how and when to forgive, how and when to make peace. The desolate landscape of Hamburg, razed by the fire-bombing of July 1943, is stunningly realised, and the relationships that unfold there confirm Rhidian as a superbly gifted writer with the ability to take total command of his readers' sympathies and imagination."

Brook's debut novel, The Testimony of Taliesin Jones, won the 1997 Somerset Maugham Award. Since 2005 he has been mainly writing for television and film, with his first feature film "Africa United" released in October 2010.