Sam Eades, editorial director at Trapeze, has acquired world rights (all languages) to Bonnie & Stan by Anna Stuart, a love story "about a life lived together and the pain of tearing that apart".
The two-book deal was struck by Kate Shaw at The Viney Shaw Agency and, according to Orion, the first will be "a key title" for the company at next year's London Book Fair.
Set in modern day Wirral and Liverpool in the early sixties, it centres on two newly retired people - Bonnie and Stan - who have a growing to-do list and a brand new dream house to build when a routine hospital visit sends all their plans "into darkness". Stan cannot bear the thought of leaving Bonnie alone, and embarks on a series of “dates” to find someone to take his place when he’s gone.
According to Eades, the book will break hearts in the tradition of The Notebook as "a story of love in all its forms – from the rush of excitement on a first date to the companionship and kinship we feel with those who grow old together".
Stuart, its author, also writes for Pan Macmillan as a historical novelist under the pseudonym Joanna Courtney.
She said: "I love the fact that today’s so-called ‘old’ people came out of the swinging sixties – one of the coolest decades of them all. It could be why there is so little that is actually ‘old’ about them and the more I got to know Bonnie and Stan the more I felt excited – and moved – by their story. Being given a terminal diagnosis is a tragedy at any age as it means being torn from those you love and in Bonnie and Stan I wanted to explore the impact of that on hopes and dreams and emotions that are every bit as important at 70 as they were at 20."
Eades said the tale was a "story of love in all its forms – from the rush of excitement on a first date to the companionship and kinship we feel with those who grow old together".
"In the tradition of great love stories like The Notebook, this book will break your heart and makes you realise that a life that has love in it, is a life lived to the full. Anna and Kate are a dream to work with, and we can’t wait to introduce readers to Bonnie and Stan."
The book will be published by Trapeze in spring 2019 in trade paperback, e-book and audio with the mass market paperback in summer 2019.