Judy Finnigan, one half of publishing phenomenon Richard and Judy, is to publish her long-rumoured first novel with Sphere.
Catherine Burke, Sphere editorial director, signed world rights to two titles from Luigi Bonomi.
The first novel, Eloise, is a ghost story and a thriller about "overwhelming grief, passion and betrayal”. It follows Cathy, an apparently happily married woman in her late 40s who begins to have disturbing dreams after her best friend Eloise dies from breast cancer. Cathy has a history of depression and is recovering from a nervous breakdown, so when she confides in her husband her worries about what really happened to Eloise, he thinks she is losing her grip on reality once more.
Burke said: "Judy"s wonderful storytelling is utterly compelling. Eloise is reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier and Emily Brontë and the team and I are hugely excited to have the opportunity to work with Judy in bringing her novels to readers.
"Judy has been a brilliant champion of great fiction and it's clear from her writing that she knows exactly what it takes to tell a great story and get readers talking."
Finnigan added: "I am completely thrilled that this novel—a story I have been planning and thinking about for so long—is finally to see the light of day. I am already working on ideas for my second novel. At last I have the time to write—and I am loving it."
Sphere will publish in late 2012.