With day one of the London Book Fair not yet over, another book is emerging as a hot title: New Yorker staff writer Lauren Collins’ memoir, which has the working title French Lessons. Ann Godoff at Penguin Press bought North American rights to the book in a deal rumored to be in the seven figures.
Agent Elyse Cheney represents Collins, and confirmed that 4th Estate has preempted the book in the U.K.
In the memoir Collins, an American, chronicles her attempts to master the titular tongue after marrying a French man and moving to Geneva.
Cheney's agency, Elyse Cheney Literary Associates, said the book exposes the author’s fish-out-of-water experience, as well as her immersion in a new language. In its catalog copy for the memoir, the agency describes the work as “a story of two romances.” In the first romance, Collins falls “in love anew with her husband across the linguistic divide.” In the second romance, the author falls for “the world she comes to inhabit in a foreign tongue.”
Collins, who is originally from North Carolina, joined the New Yorker in 2003 and became a staff writer at the magazine in 2010. For the magazine she has profiled, among other subjects, Michelle Obama, the graffiti artist Banksy, and the chef April Broomfiled. Collins' November 2013 New Yorker story "Fire Eaters," about the hunt for the hottest chili pepper in the world, has been nominated for a James Beard award.
Penguin Press has French Lessons planned for a 2016 publication.