Phoenix, part of the Orion Publishing Group, has acquired The Midnight News, a new novel from Jo Baker, author of Sunday Times bestseller Longbourn.
Publisher Francesca Main acquired the novel from Clare Alexander at Aitken Alexander in an exclusive submission. North American rights were sold by Anna Stein at ICM to Diana Miller at Knopf. It will be published as a lead Phoenix hardback in spring 2023.
The synopsis reads: "Set in Blitz-torn London, the novel introduces Charlotte, who by day works as a typist for the Ministry of Information and by night shares gin and confidences with her best friend, Elena. As Charlotte pokes her head out of her attic window, she sees enemy planes coming in over the city, the bombs begin to fall, her neighbours’ homes turned to rubble. Every day there are scenes of devastation but after the heartbreaking loss of several friends Charlotte comes to fear that there is something – or someone – else at work. Who is the shadow man that seems to be following her? Could the war be providing the perfect cover for a murderer to hide corpses among the dead? Or is Charlotte’s mind simply playing tricks on her? As she begins to hear the voices of her lost friends and her nerves become increasingly fraught, Charlotte finds herself taken back to an asylum with which she has a painful history and no clear means of escape."
Main said: "I found The Midnight News utterly enthralling and incredibly moving. It’s a war story, a mystery and also an unexpected love story, for amid scenes so shocking you read with your heart in your mouth, it’s also a beautiful, tender portrait of friendship and redemption. Jo Baker is a supremely gifted and deeply compassionate writer – it’s an honour to welcome her to the list and to have the opportunity to take her career to new heights."
Baker commented: "I’m utterly delighted. I’ve admired Francesca’s work for ages; she publishes the kind of work I love to read and aspire to write. It’s a bit of a dream come true to find myself joining her list."
Baker is the author of seven novels, most recently The Body Lies, which was published by Doubleday in 2019. Longbourn was published by PRH imprint Black Swan in 2014 and is currently in development for a film directed by Sharon Maguire.
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