Trapeze has acquired historical mystery The Quickening by Sarah Ward, writing under a pseudonym, in a two-book deal.
Commissioning editor Katie Brown bought world all languages from Kirsty McLachlan at David Godwin Associates. Written by crime writer Ward under the pen-name Rhiannon Ward, the first book will be published by Trapeze in hardback, e-book and audio in February 2020.
The novel’s protagonist is Louisa Drew, based on the celebrated Christina Broom, a pioneer of women’s press photography in the Edwardian era.
Its synopsis states: “Louisa Drew lost her husband in the First World War and her six-year-old twin sons in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Newly re-married to a war-traumatised husband and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex where she is to photograph the contents of the house for auction.
“She learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, and that the lady of the house has asked those who gathered almost thirty years ago to come together once more to recreate the evening. When a mysterious child appears on the grounds, she finds herself compelled to investigate and becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house. Gradually, she unravels the long-held secrets of the inhabitants and what really happened thirty years before… and discovers her own fate is entwined with Clewer Hall’s.”
Brown said: “Rhiannon is a tremendously talented writer, and when she told me about this incredible true story of a house with leather walls, an infamous séance, and an unsolved murder, I was hooked. What really drew me in however, is how she has weaved together two different periods – one known for the burgeoning interest in spiritualism, and the other for the suffragette movement – and delivered a historical novel that is keenly relevant today. I can’t wait to welcome readers to Clewer Hall, and unlock its secrets alongside our unforgettable heroine, Louisa.”
Ward said: “I’m delighted to be joining Trapeze with its reputation for dynamism and innovation in publishing. When I met Katie Brown I was bowled over by her energy and enthusiasm and I’m delighted that The Quickening has found the perfect home.”