Transworld has bagged Clare Pooley's book-club fiction debut The Authenticity Project after a six-way auction, securing UK and Commonwealth rights in two books for a six-figure sum.
Transworld senior commissioning editor Sally Williamson did the deal through Hayley Steed and Madeleine Milburn at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency.
According to Transworld the "heartwarming" novel combines the tenderness of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Lido with the narrative structure of "Love Actually", all while exploring loneliness, motherhood, addiction and love, and "the importance of truth, connection and friendship in a society that continues to put up barriers".
Williamson said she knew this was something special straight away. "Not only has Clare created a cast of characters who completely captured my heart, but the warmth, wit and empathy with which she explores the idea of how little we all tell the truth, shines off the page," she said. "The response from every single person at Transworld has been as passionate as mine, and I can’t wait to get this book into the hands of readers I know will love it just as much. This is set to be the stand-out debut of 2020, with Clare destined to have a glittering career ahead of her. I couldn’t be happier to make this my first acquisition for Transworld."
Pooley said: "Four years ago, my world, as portrayed on social media, seemed pretty perfect; in reality, it was falling apart. When I finally plucked up the courage to tell the truth, it transformed my life, and helped many other people. That got me thinking: everybody lies about their lives. What would happen if we told the truth instead? Perhaps nothing, but maybe something magical. That thought led to The Authenticity Project, and the minute I met Sally and her team, I knew that it had found the perfect home. I hope that, between us, we can get everyone asking themselves what truth would I tell?"
In the last week US rights have been won by Pam Dorman at Penguin Random House in a "major" deal at auction, and foreign rights have sold in 16 other languages – Czech, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish and Swedish. Auctions are also currently running in Portuguese, Greek, Chinese and Hebrew.
Pooley spent 20 years working in advertising, took part in a Curtis Brown Creative course and has previously written a memoir, The Sober Diaries (Coronet).
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