Transworld has pre-empted two novels by Rachel Rhys, Butterflies with Broken Wings plus one other, in a six-figure deal.
Jane Lawson, editorial director at Transworld, with Beverly Cousins of Penguin Random House Australia, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Felicity Blunt at Curtis Brown.
Butterflies with Broken Wings is pitched as "Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey" as a novel of "love and deception on the high seas, full of glamour, heartache and intrigue". Set in 1939, it is about a working class English girl on a cruise liner bound for a new life in Australia, mingling for the first time in her life with people of all classes and nationalities, in the enclosed world of the ship.
Lawson said: "The passengers cannot get away from each other, and soon the ship becomes a floating tinderbox of social, political and sexual tension. By the end, two people are dead and lives irrevocably changed. There is one incredible twist and many false trails along the way."
Blunt added: "Rachel Rhys has created such a graceful and gripping story of life and love on an ocean voyage. The setting is utterly unique and the story full of suspense. I am delighted that the might of Transworld with the brilliant Jane Lawson at the helm will be steering it to success."
Rhys is the pen name for an already successful female suspense author. Transworld’s strategy will build both strands of her publishing in a joined up campaign across print and audio.
Butterflies with Broken Wings is due to be published in Doubleday hardback and audio in Spring 2017.