Trapeze has signed the debut novel of Sunday Times journalist Leaf Arbuthnot.
Arbuthnot, 25, who is a features editor and book reviewer at The Sunday Times, as well as critic for the Times Literary Supplement, said her book is about "how loneliness cuts across the generations and can brush anyone, anywhere".
The novel follows a retired widow, Ada, who - after the sudden death of her husband - finds herself bereaved and unmoored. In an attempt to reconnect with people she sets up Rent-a-Granny, offering her grandmotherly services within the local community. When Ada meets Eliza, a young student, she feels she has finally made a real connection. But Eliza is burdened with her own issues, and when Ada learns what Eliza is hiding, she doesn’t know whether she’ll ever be able to forgive her.
While exploring difficult subjects such as loneliness and grief, its editor, Katie Brown, commissioning editor at Trapeze, branded Looking for Eliza ultimately "such an uplifting and joyful novel about reaching out to people". World rights in all languages to Looking for Eliza were acquired in a one book deal struck by Laura Macdougall at United Agents, and Trapze will publish the book in hardback and e-book in spring 2020.
"I’ve been aware of Leaf’s talent for a while now – you just have to look at her CV to see she is an extraordinary woman – so when the chance came to work with her on her debut novel, I leapt at it," commented Brown.
"Looking for Eliza is a stunning exploration of some difficult subjects – loneliness, obsession, grief – yet it is such an uplifting and joyful novel about reaching out to people, and finding you’re not alone. Leaf has managed to achieve that rare thing: beautifully lyrical writing paired with fantastically compulsive plotting, and her sharp observations reminded me of Joanna Cannon and Emma Healey. I am so excited to be publishing this novel, which is sure to be one of the most anticipated books of 2020."