Two Roads buys tale of Descartes' servant girl

Two Roads buys tale of Descartes' servant girl

Two Roads has acquired The Words in My Hand, a book about a Dutch servant girl’s relationship with René Descartes.

Publisher Lisa Highton bought UK rights to the book, by Guinevere Glasfurd, from Veronique Baxter at David Higham.

Set in the 17th century Dutch Republic, it tells the story of Helena Jans van der Strom, a Dutch servant girl, her relationship with René Descartes and their daughter.

Highton said: “Helena is one of the most fully-formed and believable characters I’ve come across in some time – a true feminist protagonist and woman in love. Her determination to educate herself and her joy in words and writing is a thing of wonder and heroism. From the little that is on record of Helena’s life Guinevere has fashioned an inspiring and moving story of an extraordinary woman.”

Guinevere said: “Often, we hear stories of the woman behind the great man. In telling Helena's story, I wanted to realise the woman in front of Descartes – a woman who, although constrained by her context, was bright, capable, and utterly alive to the world.”

Two Roads will publish in hardback in early 2016.