Weidenfeld & Nicolson has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, for the word-of-mouth French bestseller Born of No Woman by Franck Bouysse.
The novel was first published by independent French publisher La Manufacture de Livres in 2019 and has sold over 250,000 copies, the publisher said. It won the Grand Prix Des Lectrices d’Elle, the Prix des Libraires, the Prix Psychologies Magazine and the Prix Babelio.
The synopsis reads: "Nineteenth-century rural France. Before he is called to bless the body of a woman at the nearby asylum, Father Gabriel receives a strange, troubling confession: hidden under the woman's dress he will find the notebooks in which she confided the abuses she suffered and the twisted motivations behind them. And so Rose's terrible story comes to light: sold as a teenage girl to a rich man, hidden away in an old manor house deep in the woods and caught in a perverse web, manipulated by those society considers her betters. A girl whose only escape is to capture her life - in all its devastation and hope - in the pages of her diary..."
Federico Andornino, publishing director, bought rights from Charlotte Seymour at Andrew Nurnberg Associates on behalf of The Other Press. Foreign rights have been sold in seven countries.
Andornino said: "I first came across Born of No Woman in a bookshop in Geneva, Switzerland: there was a pile of copies on the main table at the entrance and I was mesmerised by its cover (the same as our edition) and by the effusive bookseller note recommending the novel. From then on, every bookshop in the city had copies front and centre and I simply had to find out what all the fuss was about. And I am glad I did because this is the most brilliant type of storytelling: dark, compulsive, unexpected, both timeless and timely. It’s no wonder French booksellers went mad for Bouysse’s creation and made it the unexpected hit of 2019: Born of No Woman is quite simply unputdownable."
Bouysse has published three other novels with Manufacture Liv: Grossir le ciel (2014), Plateau (2016) and Glaise (2017).