Picador are delighted to have acquired Dear Mrs Bird by debut novelist AJ Pearce, after a passionately-fought, seven-publisher auction.
Here Picador Editorial Director, Francesca Main, explains why AJ Pearce's love-letter to friendship, to acts of everyday heroism, and to letter-writing itself is 'the perfect tonic for these Troubled Times'.
I've been reading the most wonderful novel. It's set in London in 1941 and is the story of Emmeline Lake who dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent but finds herself acting as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman's Day magazine.
She is astonished to discover that Mrs Bird is so resolutely against any form of Unpleasantness that she is dismissing letters from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted in favour of those who feel their ankles are unsightly or have trouble untangling a length of wool. But Emmy can't bear to think of women with genuine fears and worries going unanswered, and soon decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back...
I confess I've fallen head over heels for Emmy and her best friend Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy even in the face of a telegram that brings a terrible blow and the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone.
I think any reader who has loved Nina Stibbe's books, or The Trouble With Goats And Sheep, or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, or Lissa Evans' Crooked Heart or even Chris Cleave's Everyone Brave Is Forgiven will love Dear Mrs Bird too.
I can't help feeling it is a bestseller in the making and we’re thrilled to welcome her to Picador and can’t wait to start bringing the unforgettable world of Dear Mrs Bird to life.
Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce will bepublished by Picador in Spring 2018.