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Affirm Press loves publishing great historical fiction – after recent successes our market share in the category has grown to 15% – and we get VERY excited when we think we’ve found a winner! Not since The Dictionary of Lost Words hit our desks have we seen a novel with more appeal than The Natural History of Love.

The Natural History of Love is based on the remarkable true story of fiery Brazilian heiress Carolina Fonçeca and her long-time lover Count François de Castelnau who, exiled from their homelands, moved to Gold Rush era Melbourne in order to keep their family together. Here, Carolina fashioned a new identity and they pretended to be merely neighbours: Carolina existed under the guise of a widow in one East Melbourne terrace with their illegitimate sons, while the count occupied the identical one next door. But unbeknownst to the outside world they lived as a family, the mirrored terraces joined by a secret internal door.

Request an ARC of this captivating tale of romance, infidelity, familial resentment, madness, and a couple’s shared passion for the science of evolution.

The Story

‘A gripping tale of forbidden love, evolution and family inheritance that sinks in its claws and won’t let go.’
– Melissa Ashley, author of The Birdman’s Wife

For fans of Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things and Pip Williams’ The Dictionary of Lost Words, The Natural History of Love is based upon the true story of 19th-century French explorer, naturalist and diplomat the Count de Castelnau and his lover Madame Fonçeca. It is a sweeping historical narrative set in the wilds of Brazil, the salons of Paris and the early days of Melbourne’s settlement.

When Melbourne lawyer Nathan Smithson takes on mad, wealthy Edward Fonçeca’s inheritance trial against his ruthless brother in 1902, he must unearth long-buried family secrets to have any chance of winning.

Brazil, 1852: François, the Count de Castelnau and French Consul to Bahia, falls dangerously ill on a naturalist expedition and is delivered by a rainforest tribesman to the Fonçeca household. Carolina Fonçeca is 16 years old and longing to leave the confines of her family’s remote Brazilian sugar plantation. With a head full of Balzac and dreams of Parisian life, she is instantly beguiled by the middle-aged Frenchman. What Carolina doesn’t know is that François has a wife and son back in France. Desperate for a new life, she makes a decision that will haunt her forever.

Watch Caroline Petit talk about The Natural History of Love.

Media & Marketing Campaign

•  National media campaign that will propel an overlooked Australian story to the forefront of readers’ imaginations
•  First-rate marketing campaign that includes the ever-popular Gift with Purchase offering of bespoke wrapping paper, bookmark and gift card (pictured)
•  Intensive digital marketing campaign targeting the highly active social media community of historical fiction readers
•  Australian Women’s Weekly print advertising
•  Stop-in-your-tracks window displays – get in touch with Affirm Press or your Hachette rep.

About the Author

Caroline Petit was born in Washington DC, raised in Maryland and now lives in Melbourne with her husband. She did her undergraduate degree at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, which included a stint at the London School of Economics, and holds advanced degrees from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Melbourne’s School of Law and a Graduate Arts Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT. Her previous novels, The Fat Man’s Daughter and Deep Night, were published in the USA by Soho Press.




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