Vintage has acquired a "beautiful, heart-breaking" novel about the life of Jean Rhys by Booker-shortlisted novelist Caryl Phillips.
Alex Russell, editor at Vintage, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to A View of the Empire from Georgia Garrett at Rogers, Coleridge & White. US rights were sold to Jonathan Galassi at Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Publishing on 21st June, A View of the Empire at Sunset begins as Rhys – not yet famous as the author of Wide Sargasso Sea – is presented with an unexpected opportunity to return to the island of her childhood. Rhys lived in the Caribbean for 16 years before going to England. But in the novel, while far from "the lonely nights and failed dreams of England", a visit home to Dominica compels her to reflect on the events of her past and on what they may mean for her future.
In this way, the book will explore Rhys' "tempestuous" life: her schooldays in Edwardian England, her training as an actress, her life in Paris in the 1920s, and her return to London. According to Vintage, readers will see Rhys "battling to find her place in the world and bracing herself for the end of her marriage", branding it a novel "of the complexities of family, the nature of alienation and exile, and ultimately a story of courage and hope".
Russell said: "A View of the Empire at Sunset is a haunting, beautiful novel about one woman's quest for belonging and the unexpected events that alter the course of her life. Caryl Phillips has crafted an extraordinary portrait of one of our most fascinating cultural figures, and it is a privilege to publish this major work at Vintage."