Welbeck has landed Separation for Beginners, a "sad, joyful story" by Joe Portman, after pre-empting the novel in a two-book deal.
Jon Elek, fiction publisher, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights to Separation for Beginners and a follow-up from Becky Thomas at LLA. It will be a lead hardback for Welbeck in July 2022.
"There are millions of people who would love – be thrilled even – to start over. But Pete Smith isn’t one of them," the synopsis explains.
"As a younger man, Pete travelled the world, fell in love, had two kids, and took over the family business. It was all to play for. Now he’s a divorced empty-nester on the wrong side of 50, juggling an unsuccessful career alongside endless solitary evenings at home in front of the TV. This is what happens when you habitually put yourself last.
"But when his daughter’s boyfriend — a man with no filter and the only gardener on the planet to work from home — moves in, Pete finds himself unlocked in ways he could never have imagined."
Elek said: "This funny, sad, joyful story of two completely different people making a mark on each other’s lives will make you immediately want to call your dad and see how he’s doing. This is a book for anyone who loved About a Boy or The Flatshare."
Portman said: "I’m delighted to be published by Welbeck and have been blown away by their ambition for the novel."
Writing as Tom Connolly, Portman is the author of two previous novels, The Spider Truces (Myriad Editions) and Men Like Air (Myriad Editions), and has been shortlisted for the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.