Bloomsbury signed up Lucie Whitehouse's debut novel in a two-book deal in a hotly contested auction and Whitehouse is being published worldwide. Foreign rights sold in US, Germany, Holland and Italy
Lucie Whitehouse read classics at Oxford University and now lives in London. 'The House at Midnight' is her first novel.
At 30, Londoner Joanna still spends her free time with her Oxford college friends, now with burgeoning careers and all on the cusp of real adulthood. Lucas, Joanna's closest friend and prolonged crush, inherits Stoneborough Manor, a huge and imposing house in the Cotswold countryside filled with priceless art, where all the college friends are to spend every weekend together. The first visit, on New Year's Eve, doesn't start well, as the Londoners get lost. To Joanna, the manor has a threatening and unsettling aura, and indeed, the big, dark, vaguely confusing house with its secrets and disappointments works well as an allegory for moving into the responsibilities and fears of growing up. Joanna and her friends proceed to deal with the unknown, some well, others destructively. A focus on the shifting relationships and loyalties doesn't leave much room for plot, but Joanna's voice is engaging, and Londoner Whitehouse, making her debut, manages to generate a lot of interest in the somewhat flat Four Weddings and a Funeral-esque ensemble: she gets the insecurities, pedigrees and Cotswold locale spot on. Unfortunately, this promising first effort features a truncated ending that is less evocative than jarring. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
'Atmospheric and compelling - an impressive debut' Joanna Briscoe 'Lucie Whitehouse's debut novel is about friends from Oxford who meet regularly for weekends at a large country house. Not unexpectedly, those who have read the novel are drawing comparisons with 'The Big Chill' and 'The Secret History'.' The Bookseller 'Literary agent Lucie Whitehouse's own writing made headlines this week as her debut novel was snapped up by Bloomsbury. 'The House at Midnight' is a psychological novel about a group of graduates from Oxford University which combines the camaraderie of Richard Curtis with the underlying menace of Donna Tartt.' Guardian 'Gripping and tense with an atmosphere which holds you in thrall' Susan Hill