Sceptre has acquired British literary debut Saltwater, a "tenderly evocative and poetic" novel by 25-year old Jessica Andrews, in a four-way auction.
Francine Toon, editor at Sceptre, struck the deal for British and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada but with exclusive Europe) from Chris Wellbelove at Aitken Alexander Associates. Sceptre will publish the novel in spring 2019. Rights have already been pre-empted in Germany (Hoffmann und Campe) and Spain (Seix Barral). It was also preempted on Thursday (5th October) in the US (by FSG).
Saltwater is pitched as a novel that "challenges our perceptions of family relationships, explores the nuances of working-class experience and captures what it means to be a young person in London today".
It tells the "fractured" coming-of-age story of Lucy, who grows up in the north-east of England, keen to escape to a more exciting life. As a student she moves to London where a clamorous world of warehouse parties and pop-up bars presents a new set of questions about belonging. On graduation, Lucy retreats to her grandfather’s stone cottage in remote Donegal and there, alone, sets about piecing together her family’s history, hoping that in confronting her origins she will know something about her future.
Toon said: "I think Saltwater is a work of exceptional talent and announces an important new voice in British fiction. I am fascinated by Jessica Andrews’ interrogation of mother-daughter relationships in a prose style that is exquisite in its intimacy and descriptive power. Lucy’s journey is one I feel so many people will be able to identify with, as I did myself, and yet it feels wholly unique in its execution."
Andrews said: "I am really happy to be working with Francine. The response to my work has been very exciting and overwhelming and I am so pleased that my novel has found such a good home. I genuinely feel that Sceptre will give Lucy the voice she deserves."