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Zaffre acquires adult debut from acclaimed YA author Emily Critchley 

Zaffre, the flagship adult fiction imprint of Bonnier Books UK, has acquired UK & Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights for Emily Critchley’s adult debut One Puzzling Afternoon plus one other novel. US rights have been sold to Sourcebooks. 

Sophie Orme, publishing director for Zaffre and Manilla Press, brokered the two-book deal with Hayley Steed of Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. 

A captivating reading group novel, One Puzzling Afternoon follows 84-year-old Edie Green, who – facing dementia – must look back into the past to discover what happened to her school friend Lucy, who went missing over 60 years ago.

Author Emily Critchley said: ‘It’s an honour to be publishing my novel with Bonnier Books UK and I feel incredibly grateful to be working with Sophie and such a supportive and creative team. Edie’s story has been close to my heart for some time now and I’m delighted to be able to share it with readers. I hope she charms them as much as she did me, and that readers will experience the same escapism I enjoyed when writing. I owe a huge thank you to my agent, Hayley Steed, for finding me the perfect publisher and for believing in the book every step of the way.’

Zaffre & Manilla Press Publishing Director Sophie Orme said: ‘I was completely captivated by One Puzzling Afternoon which moves between the 1950s and the present day and follows Edie Green, who faced with dementia realises she must remember what happened to her school friend Lucy, who went missing years before. As well as creating an atmospheric, page-turning small-town mystery, Emily Critchley writes so beautifully, with such compassion and warmth, about ageing. Fans of Joanna Cannon and Elizabeth is Missing will love this.’

Emily’s agent Hayley Steed said: ‘I’m delighted that Emily’s debut adult novel has found such a wonderful home with Sophie and Bonnier Books UK. The voice of Edie had me captured from the very first page, and it’s a beautiful story, rich with heart-wrenching tenderness and a gripping mystery at its heart.’

Emily Critchley grew up in Essex. She has lived in Brighton and London and now lives in Hertfordshire where she works as a librarian. She has a first class BA in Creative Writing from London Metropolitan University and an MA with distinction in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University of London. Her YA debut Notes on my Family was nominated for the Carnegie, longlisted for the Branford Boase, and book of the week in the Sunday Times, and her middle grade novel The Bear who Sailed the Ocean on an Iceberg was published in October 2021. One Puzzling Afternoon is her debut adult novel.

One Puzzling Afternoon will be published in hardback, eBook, and audio in May 2023 by Zaffre. Sourcebooks will publish in the US in Autumn 2023.