DEAL OF THE WEEK
S&S Ponies Up for the ‘Good Life’
After a 12-publisher auction, psychiatrist Robert Waldinger and psychologist Marc Schulz sold, in a seven-figure deal, The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Study on Happiness. Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster won North American rights to the book from Doug Abrams and Lara Love Hardin at Idea Architects. The Good Life, the agents said, “distills 80 years of research and ancient wisdom to answer eternal questions about the keys to happiness and well-being.” Waldinger, a professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development (which launched in 1938 and is considered the longest-running study of its kind), did a TED Talk that inspired the book. “What Makes a Good Life?” is, the agents added, one of TED’s top 10 most watched and shared talks to date, with more than 30 million views.
FROM THE U.S.
MacLean Closes Quartet at Avon
In a four-book, high-six-figure deal, Sarah MacLean re-upped with Avon Books. Through the agreement, brokered by Avon’s Carrie Feron and Holly Root at Root Literary, MacLean will pen a series titled Hell’s Belles, about a gang of women in the Victorian era who, the publisher said, are “hell-bent on smashing the patriarchy in all corners of London, from glittering ballrooms to dark alleys.” Book one, which is currently untitled, is set for summer 2021.
FSG Examines Osnos’s ‘Wildland’
For Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Eric Chinski took U.S., Canadian, and open market rights to Evan Osnos’s Wildland. The book, subtitled The Making of America’s Fury and slated for fall 2021, examines “the origins of America’s political and ideological dissolution,” according to the publisher. Osnos is a staff writer for the New Yorker who won the National Book Award for 2014’s Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (also published by FSG). In his upcoming work, Osnos looks closely at three cities he has lived in—Greenwich, Conn.; Clarksburg, W.Va.; and Chicago—to find, FSG elaborated, “a deeper explanation of the United States’s growing political divisions, and where they will lead.” Jennifer Joel at ICM Partners represented Osnos in the deal.
Dey Street Takes Book on Harry and Meghan
Carrie Thornton at Dey Street has nabbed a book that parent company HarperCollins is touting as “the true story of Harry and Meghan.” Thornton took world rights to Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family from Albert Lee at the United Talent Agency. The authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, are U.K.-based reporters who, per HC, have “unique access” to the pair and are writing the book with “the participation of those closest to the couple.” The book, set for summer 2020, will, HC said, “go beyond the headlines to reveal unknown details of Harry and Meghan’s life together, dispelling the many rumors and misconceptions that plague the couple on both sides of the pond.”
'Stockholm Sven’ Retreats to Little, Brown
In a preempt, Ben George at Little, Brown took world rights to the debut novel The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven. Author Nathaniel Ian Miller, a graduate of the University of Montana’s MFA program, was represented by Esmond Harmsworth at Aevitas Creative Management. George said the novel was inspired by a mysterious real-life hermit; in the book, the hero is “horribly disfigured in a mining accident and thereafter lives for years alone in a remote fjord on Svalbard,” a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic. The character, George went on, has “occasional adventures with other miners and fur trappers, until his enduring love for a wayward niece forces a renewed connection with humanity.”
Grande’s ‘Glory’ Celebrated at Atria
Reyna Grande (The Distance Between Us) sold a historical novel, The Color of Glory, to Michelle Herrera Mulligan at Atria. The North American rights agreement was brokered by Johanna V. Castillo at Writers House, who called Grande a notable voice for the Latinx community during the American Dirt controversy, when she wrote a New York Times op-ed on the subject and appeared on an episode of the Apple TV+ series Oprah’s Book Club to discuss the scandal. The Color of Glory, Castillo said, follows “an Irish soldier in the U.S. Army who swims across the Rio Grande to defend Mexico against the American invasion of 1846 and meets a headstrong nurse who steals his heart.”
Morrow Buys ‘Belonging’
For William Morrow, Rachel Kahan bought world rights to Walter Thompson-Hernández’s memoir Belonging: A Story of Family, Migration, and Homecoming. Chad Luibl at Janklow & Nesbit Associates brokered the deal. In the book, the publisher said, Thompson-Hernández (The Compton Cowboys) writes about his mother, who fled violence in her native Mexico at age 16 and journeyed to Los Angeles, “where the author was born in secret, and where he grew up struggling to embrace his multiracial identity.”
SMP Backs Beard Book
Graham Boynton’s biography of recently deceased wildlife photographer Peter Beard was acquired, for six figures, by Charles Spicer at St. Martin’s Press. Boynton (Last Days in Cloud Cuckooland) is a conservationist and was represented by Laura Yorke at the Carol Mann Agency, who called the currently untitled book the “definitive” take on Beard. The subject was as famous for his playboy lifestyle as he was for his photographs, and the book, Yorke said, will “convey Beard as a force of nature—a trust-fund kid who led the life of a poet, a conservationist, an explorer, and an artist, and who got all the girls.”
Lindgren’s ‘River’ Runs Through Random House
Kayaker Scott Lindgren and Outside magazine correspondent Thayer Walker sold The River Runner to Mark Warren at Random House. The book, RH said, is an account of Lindgren’s quest to “become the first person to attempt to kayak the four great rivers that flow from Tibet’s sacred Mt. Kailash and survive.” Susan Canavan at Waxman Literary Agency brokered the North American rights agreement.
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the incorrect title for Sarah MacLean's forthcoming series; it's called Hell's Belles, not Hell's Bells.