The Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency is delighted with the outstanding success of Scottish author Gail Honeyman and her novel Eleanor Oliphant, which quickly became the most talked about book at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Pitched in the vein of bestsellers such as The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, Eleanor Oliphant is about a loveable oddball struggling with mental health issues who, with unabashed wit, goes on a journey to find out that the only way to survive in the real world is to open her heart to friendship.
The Madeleine Milburn Agency sold North American rights to the prestigious publisher Penguin Books in a heated auction on the eve of the fair. Pamela Dorman, who has her own imprint, acquired two books in a major seven-figure deal.
Dorman remarked: “I have looked for authors who have a fresh, identifiable voice, a great ear for dialogue and an ability to tell a story that is compelling and emotionally resonant. ELEANOR OLIPHANT is all of these things – told in a voice that is all its own, and recognizable from the first page, about a character we care about immediately, and whose life’s twists and turns are ones we instantly want to follow.”
Some of Pamela Dorman’s most notable successes include Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You.
The Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency also ran an eight-way auction in the UK, which culminated in HarperCollins acquiring UK & Commonwealth rights in two books in a high six-figure deal, calling it ‘a rare diamond’ and ‘The Breakout Book of the Year’, reported in The Bookseller during the Fair. Publisher Kim Young said:
‘Eleanor Oliphant is an astonishing story that powerfully depicts the loneliness of life, and the simple power of a little kindness.’
Acquiring editor, Martha Ashby, added:
‘Gail has created a complex and yet completely endearing character in Eleanor Oliphant, and she has such a fantastic voice and storytelling power that can’t fail to move and stay with you.’
Translation rights are being auctioned around the world, with the following languages already snapped up in significant deals: German: Bastei Luebbe; Italian: Garzanti Libri; Serbian: Vulkan; French: Fleuve; Dutch: Cargo / De Bezige Bij; and Hebrew: Keter. Rights Agent, Therese Coen, is handling ongoing auctions in Spain, Sweden, Slovakia, China, Brazil, Poland and the Czech Republic. Coen said that “international interest has been unprecedented.”
Madeleine Milburn said ‘we are absolutely ecstatic that Gail’s extraordinary debut Eleanor Oliphant is striking chords with publishers all around the world. The response has been truly phenomenal.’
The Madeleine Milburn team is very excited about the global publication of Eleanor Oliphant in 2017.
Gail Honeyman is the recipient of Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014. Her short fiction has been longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and published in New Writing Scotland. The opening of her debut novel was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize which Madeleine Milburn judged back in 2014.