Picador has bought Janice Hadlow’s “gripping” true story of a Regency love triangle involving the Duchess of Devonshire's sister and a rakish aristocrat.
George Morley, non-fiction editorial director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Caroline Michel at PFD. The Duchess’s Daughter will be published in 2021.
It tells the tale of Harriet, Lady Bessborough, her daughter Hary-O and the most desirable man in Regency society, Granville Leveson Gower. The synopsis explains: “It has all the twists and turns of the best novels, but is much darker and more complicated than anything respectable nineteenth-century fiction could attempt. Encompassing adultery, illegitimacy and betrayal, the suppression of true feelings and the manipulation of deeply-felt loyalties, it has as much in common with Les Liaisons Dangereuses as with Pride and Prejudice.”
Morley said: “It is a love story, but a very dark one. Janice Hadlow’s powerful story-telling, her knowledge of the period and her vivid insights into women’s life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are second to none and I can’t wait to share her book with the world.”
Hadlow worked as a television producer on shows like Simon Schama’s History of Britain before becoming controller of BBC4 and BBC2. Her first non-fiction book, about the troubled relationship between George III and his wife and children, The Strangest Family (William Collins), was published in 2014 and her first novel, The Other Bennet Sister (Mantle), will be published in 2020.
She said: “I’m delighted to be writing this extraordinary story of love, loyalty and sacrifice. At its heart are two very different female characters: one a worldly older beauty whose heart has always ruled her head; the other her much younger niece, sharp, intelligent, and overlooked. In a turn of events that no-one could have predicted, they both love the same man - and the emotions that emerge from this clash between sense and sensibility go on to shape the lives of everyone involved, even echoing down to the next generation. And the culmination of the story is so dramatic and so moving that a novelist might hesitate to invent it.”