Weidenfeld & Nicolson has bought two novels by journalist and theatre critic Laura Barnett in a “hotly contested” six-publisher auction.
Kirsty Dunseath, publishing director of W&N Fiction, bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to The Versions of Us and Greatest Hits from Judith Murray at Greene & Heaton.
The Versions of Us is described as a “highly accomplished debut novel about the choices we make and the different courses that our lives might follow”.
It follows three different versions of the future of Eva and Jim, who meet when they are 19 and students at Cambridge in 1958.
Dunseath said: “The moment I started reading this book I just knew it was something very special indeed. It feels so accomplished, so perfectly pitched and paced, the talent shines out on every page. The whole team here completely fell in love with Laura’s writing and we are absolutely thrilled to be publishing her.”
Greatest Hits is the story of Cass Williams – the reigning queen of British singer-songwriting since the late 1970s – whose sudden disappearance from the music world two decades later has been the subject of intense speculation among her fans.
Rights to The Versions of Us have also sold in the US, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway and Israel.
The Versions of Us will be published in hardback and e-book in June 2015, with Greatest Hits following later.