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Manilla Press pre-empts extraordinary novel about the trauma of war

Manilla Press, the literary imprint of Bonnier Books UK, has acquired The Walled Garden by Sarah Hardy in a lightning fast pre-empt.

Margaret Stead, publisher of Manilla Press, acquired world English language rights in a two-book deal from Clare Alexander at Aitken Alexander.

One of Manilla Press’s biggest launches for 2023, The Walled Garden, set against a crumbling manor house in Suffolk in the aftermath of the Second World War, tells the story of Alice Rayne, whose husband Stephen has returned from war a changed man. Haunted by a secret he can’t live with, he’s angry, bitter and unable to contemplate the future. With the shadow of the war still looming large and the world so drastically changed, as Alice tries to salvage the house – and the walled garden – as well as her fractured marriage, she must look for a new way to live, and to love. Heralding the arrival of a major new voice in historical fiction, The Walled Garden is perfect for readers who enjoyed Wake by Anna Hope, The Outcast by Sadie Jones and the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Margaret Stead, publisher said: ‘Sophie Orme and I read this wonderful novel in an afternoon and knew we had to publish. This is a fresh look at WWII and its aftermath, focusing on the lives of the women left behind, who suffered as deeply as the men sent away to fight. We’re delighted to be publishing The Walled Garden.’

Sophie Orme, publishing director said: ‘The Walled Garden is an extraordinary, beguiling novel about the long shadow cast by war and the miracle of human resilience. Set against the Suffolk countryside as it moves from winter to spring, and filled with beautifully drawn, deeply compelling characters, it is both a moving exploration of trauma and a heart-rending love story. While historical it’s a novel that feels particularly apt for these difficult times and we cannot wait to begin pressing it into readers’ hands.’

Sarah Hardy said: ‘I was thrilled by the speed with which Manilla Press committed to The Walled Garden, making an instant offer within 24 hours of seeing the manuscript. It’s a privilege working with publishers who are passionately bringing my novel about troubled characters from a rather over-looked period of our history – the aftermath of the Second World War – to a larger audience. This traumatic era – when people who’d seen the worst of human nature had to find a way to live and to love once more – has always held a fascination for me. So I was delighted when Margaret Stead and her team felt the same.’

Clare Alexander said: ‘The Walled Garden is a richly imagined novel about the true cost of war, about secrets and love, both lost and found. The big house setting belies the damp and cold within, where a woman is trying to keep alive a marriage that has been violently ruptured amidst a community who are silently mourning all they have lost, as she fights to bring back the beauty of the walled garden. I am so happy that Margaret and her colleagues will be bringing this beautiful novel out into the world.’

The Walled Garden by Sarah Hardy will publish in the UK in spring 2023 in hardback, eBook, and audio.