Sceptre signs six-figure debut

<p>Sceptre senior editor Jocasta Hamilton has bought a d&eacute;but novel set in 1930s Manhattan in a &quot;significant&quot; pre-emptive deal. </p><p>Hamilton acquired British Commonwealth rights to <em>Rules of Civility</em> by Amor Towles [pictured] for a six-figure sum. The deal was struck through agent Cathryn Summerhayes on behalf of Dorian Karchmar at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. </p><p>A five-way auction has just concluded for US rights, which are going to Molly Stern, editorial director at Viking Penguin, also for six figures. </p><p>Set in New York in 1938, the novel traces &quot;a watershed year&quot; for narrator Katey Kontent, a young woman of &quot;formidable intellect, bracing wit, and uncommonly good legs&quot;.</p><p>Hamilton made the offer &quot;over a very appropriate midday Martini&quot;. She described the book as &quot;an elegant fairytale and a classic coming-of-age story&quot;, and compared the style to a mixture of F Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton and Truman Capote. </p><p>She said the &quot;evocation of the place and period&quot; and the first-person narration from Kontent &quot;who makes it against the odds&quot; made the book &quot;quite unusual&quot;.</p><p>&quot;It was just one of those rare books where you think &#39;I have to have it&#39;,&quot; Hamilton added. <br />The exact publication date has not been finalised&mdash;it will be co-ordinated with Viking in the US&mdash;but has been pencilled in for spring 2011. <br /> </p>