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Introducing Peggy Frew’s ‘Islands’

In March 2019, Allen & Unwin will publish award-winning Australian author Peggy Frew’s third novel Islands, the story of the disintegration of a marriage and its tragic aftermath. The publisher recently acquired world rights to Islands and will take the book to the Frankfurt Book Fair this year. Think Australian spoke to Allen & Unwin’s rights and international sales associate Emma Dorph about the novel’s rights sales potential.

What is your pitch for Islands?

Islands follows the disintegration of a marriage and the subsequent tragic events that reverberate through the entire family.

Helen falls out of love with husband John, leaves, finds someone else and then a series of others, not paying enough attention to her daughters Junie and Anna along the way. John is consumed by jealousy and hopelessness. and in his self-absorption also fails to notice signs that all is not well with the girls. Junie grows up brittle and defensive, Anna difficult and rebellious.

When 15-year-old Anna fails to come home one night, her mother is unconcerned at first. Anna’s done this before and always returned, so it takes three days for Helen to report her disappearance. But this time Anna doesn’t come back …

In the tradition of the novels of Helen Garner, Georgia Blain and Ashley Hay, Islands is a riveting portrait of a family coping with loss.

Who will Islands appeal to?

It will appeal to readers of brilliantly written family dramas and literary fiction with scope for commercial sales. With her remarkable insight into human nature, love and loss, Peggy’s writing is sure to get the prize-winning recognition it deserves.

How have Frew’s previous novels been received?

Her previous work Hope Farm (Scribe Publications) was shortlisted for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award and the 2016 Stella Prize, longlisted for the 2016 Indie Book Awards and the 2016 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) General Fiction Book of the Year, and was the winner of the 2016 Barbara Jefferis Award. Her debut novel, House of Sticks (Scribe Publications), was the winner of the unpublished manuscript award at the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

Has Frew been published internationally?

Hope Farm was published in the UK by Scribe.

Do you see any potential for film/TV adaptations?

I’d say there’s certainly strong potential for film/TV, with family dramas performing very well and still generating a lot of interest among producers.


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