The Conscientious Objector’s Wife
This week it was International Conscientious Objector’s Day, when we commemorated those who were imprisoned for their objection to serving in the armed forces against their conscience. The Peace Pledge Union and other organisations in Britain had events happening in several cities.
Handheld Press’s The Conscientious Objector’s Wife, out on 25 June 2018, will add to the body of historical evidence about the lives and experience of conscientious objectors, and in this case, also their families. Lucy Sunderland kept her family of three small children going for two and a half years while her husband Frank was in prison. Their letters give extraordinary detail of the day to day reality of their lives in wartime, in Letchworth.
We’re in the middle of organising a book launch towards the end of June at the Quaker Bookshop, Friends House, in London, and there may be some tickets left, so if you’d like to attend, please let us know.
The big and unexpected news for Handheld this month was the surprise arrival of a book we hadn’t ever dared to hope we might be able to publish. Nicola Griffith is an author whose SF novels and feminist thrillers Kate has long been a fan of. For several years she and Nicola have been exchanging emails about medieval English female saints and nuns (Nicola is in the middle of writing the sequel to her tremendous historical novel Hild), and about PhD strategies (Nicola recently was awarded a PhD by publication in creative writing from Anglia Ruskin University).
Imagine Kate’s surprise last year when Nicola sent her the draft of a new novel and asked for her opinion. Imagine her continued surprise when, several months later, Nicola asked her if Handheld would be interested in publishing this novel, So Lucky. Kate met Nicola’s US publishers, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, at the London Book Fair, and has spent two months sending images to Nicola, trying to find the perfect photograph for the cover. Once the cover was agreed (the cover image ties in nicely with the US cover), all systems were go. Handheld announced today, on the US publication day, that Handheld’s UK edition of So Lucky will be published on 22 November, Thanksgiving 2018.
Here’s what it’s about. Mara Tagarelli is on top of her world. She’s the head of a multimillion-dollar AIDS foundation, an accomplished martial artist, and happily married. She has never met a problem she can’t solve—until suddenly she can’t solve any of them. In the space of a single week her wife leaves her, she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she loses her job.
Now everything begins to feel like a threat. At first, she thinks it’s just her newfound sense of vulnerability. Then she realises the threat of violence is real, deadly, and heading straight for her.
But how do you defend yourself when you can’t trust your own body? How do you face down danger when everyone, including you, believes you are helpless and monsters are coming? You find your people, and you build a community.
Nicola Griffith’s So Lucky is fiction from the front lines, incandescent and urgent, a narrative juggernaut that rips through sentiment to expose the savagery of the experience of becoming disabled and dismissed. Yet So Lucky also blazes with authority, the understanding of the life that becomes possible when we stop believing lies, find our strengths, and learn new ways to fight.
Nicola Griffith’s previous novels have won the Nebula, Lambda, Tiptree and Premio Italia awards, among others.
We are SO excited about this. Nicola has a loyal and devoted fan base in the UK as well as elsewhere in the world, yet Handheld is one of the few UK publishers to publish her books for the UK market. We can’t understand why the others are so shy.
And finally, if you’re interested in finding out about publishing from the inside, take a look at the regular blog posts in the Dear Diary pages of the website. We try to keep the backroom gossip there, and the front of house information here in the Newsletter. But sometimes the separation is a bit vague!
With springtime greetings,
Your faithful purveyors of literary delights,
Kate & David