People always laugh when I say I’m a writer and my day job is in publishing. They ask if everyone in publishing secretly wants to be a writer. Sort of like a ‘those who can’t do, teach’ thing – ‘those who can’t write, edit’.
Now, I know plenty of people who work in publishing who have no aspirations to write a novel. When I got my book deal, a very senior editor told me that she could never write a book – that she knew she had good instincts around how to make a book better (and I think her many grateful authors would concur!) but that she had no desire to devise a plot or characters herself.
But of course I also know plenty of people who do write and work in publishing, and they do it with tremendous success. And why not? Working in publishing is so notoriously underpaid that most of us do it for the love of a good word – and I always feel blessed to get to work in an industry where I’m constantly surrounded by people who love and care about the products they’re producing. As for me, I never allowed myself to believe that my writing could be anything more than just a hobby, but I still wanted to work in an environment that supported my second favourite thing to do after writing – reading! So publishing was a natural fit.
This is a very roundabout way to tell you about a novel by an absolutely brilliant young woman in publishing, Nelle Davy. She works for my literary agency and had a huge hand in bringing The Oathbreaker’s Shadow up to scratch. It was great to have someone who had just gone through much the same experience as me – including the peculiar kind of agony that comes from knowing too much about the inner workings of publishing when your book is on submission! – and I’m sure I will be bugging her lots as my publication day approaches!
Her novel, called The Legacy of Eden, is a retelling of I, Claudius set in the American mid-west. The reviews pouring in are astounding and the book is out on Thursday in the UK (and was out yesterday in the US).
For generations, a grand estate house was the crowning glory of over three thousand acres of Iowa farm land and golden corn fields. Named Aurelia, it was a monument to matriarch Lavinia Hathaway’s dream to elevate the family name–no matter what relative or stranger she had to destroy in the process. It was a desperation that wrought the downfall of the Hathaways- and the once prosperous farm.
Now the last inhabitant of the decaying old home has died–alone. None of the surviving members of the Hathaway dynasty want anything to do with the house, the land or the memories. Especially Meredith Pincetti. Now living in New York City, for seventeen years Lavinia’s youngest grandchild has tried to forget everything about her family and her past. But with the receipt of a pleading letter, Meredith is again thrust into conflict with the legacy which destroyed her family’s once-great name.
Back at Aurelia, Meredith must confront the rise and fall of the Hathaway family…and her own part in their mottled history.
One of the most eagerly anticipated debuts of the year.