Picador has signed Briefly, A Delicious Life, a “richly witty and enormously moving” new novel from Nell Stevens.
Sophie Jonathan, editorial director, acquired UK and Commonwealth print, digital and audio rights from Rebecca Carter at Janklow & Nesbit, for publication in June 2022. US rights were sold to Sally Howe at Scribner via Emma Parry.
Briefly, A Delicious Life tells the story of Frederic Chopin and George Sand, and her children's brief and mostly disastrous stay in an empty monastery in Mallorca in 1838.
Its synopsis states: “The novel is narrated by Blanca, the ghost of a girl who has been at the monastery ever since her death over 300 years previously. Blanca's is a life cut short and she is outraged. Having lived in a world full, according to her mother, of 'beautiful men', she has found that in death it is the women she falls for, their beauty she cannot turn away from. It is the women and girls who, over her centuries in the village and at the monastery, Blanca has sought to protect from the attentions of men with what little power she has—breadcrumbs in a soup here (for her gluten-intolerant victim), a knocked ink pot there, and once even a heart attack. And then George Sand arrives, this striking woman in a man's clothes, and Blanca falls in love...”
Stevens is the award-winning author of memoirs Bleaker House and Mrs Gaskell and Me, both published by Picador.
She said: “I first came to Picador with a memoir about trying and failing to write a novel, so I'm joyful and grateful that, a few years later, Sophie and the Picador team are bringing my first novel into the world—a long-held and evasive dream fulfilled.”
Jonathan said: “Briefly, A Delicious Life is a miraculous boundary-pushing contemporary novel. The writing is beautiful: mature and poised. Nell’s prose has such wit, and takes an infectious delight in mischief and chaos. This is a novel that is fascinated by both the haphazard and the contemplative, and by the interior life of the artist. George Sand is magnetic, uncompromising about her art and yet, in dizzying moments of intensity, devoted to the care of those she loves. But it is Blanca who makes this book electric for me, and I cannot wait to introduce her to readers.”