I am thrilled to announce the signing up of a new client. It's not often that you get a submission drop into your inbox where the concept is just so original and gripping that it leaps to the top of the pile for reading. But that's what happened when I received a pitch from Abby Ladbrooke about her debut novel.
Currently called, The Neverborn - this literary crossover imagines a 'sliding doors', 'what if' scenario about the one that got away. Fate, destiny, a path set in the stars, call it what you like but some love stories are just meant to be . . . or are they?
Just one moment will change the course of their lives forever and mean that she is never born . . .
Emerging in The Place, fully formed as a young woman, with no past and no future, the Neverborn sets out to discover why it was her life never came to be. In The Place there is an eternity for people who have passed on. She lives amongst those who had full happy lives and those who died too soon, and she learns from their stories what it means to love, to have family, to belong.
Determined that she too should experience all that life has to offer she watches her parents in the world, jumping back and forth through the story of their lives, witnessing a love that endured until they died. In seeking the pivotal moment when their paths diverged, she hopes to change their future and give herself the chance of life. But there is a dark secret at the heart of her family – one that could destroy everything she cares about and threaten her very existence . . .
This stunning novel about love and missed opportunities will be a must-read for anyone who enjoyed The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveler’s Wife.
Not only is this a great concept but Abby is a stunning writer with prose that just grabs you by the heart and refuses to let go. Lyrical, emotional and completely original, this is one hell of a read which I can't wait to share.
I asked Abby about what inspired her to write such a story:
'For me, this is linked to the questions, why read, why write at all? We know the feeling of having a good book on the go, of being transported to another world, yet still connected to our own, finding something of ourselves in that story. The thought that I could bring something into the world that may resonate for a reader, to make that connection with someone unknown to me, this is what brought about the embryo of the idea of the Neverborn. She floats between her own world and the world that might be hers. I was drawn to the idea of the space between what might have been and what could still be – the boundary between “it’s done” and “there’s hope”. In life we take turns to the left, turns to the right and years later, “Somewhere ages and ages hence”, as Robert Frost puts it in his beautiful poem, 'The Road Not Taken', we look back and wonder about the choices and decisions we made. And all the things that were beyond our control. We are the sum of all of these happenings. Then I thought, but what if things hadn’t gone the way they did, and instead of this person, there was nobody? What shape would that nobody have, how would she talk, what would she wish for?
Alongside this was the interest in unrequited or missed love. At university, reading The Sorrows of Young Werther touched me so profoundly that I couldn’t continue. I went to see my tutor - and to my embarrassment then - cried when telling him that I could not even contemplate the essay that was due. To my great surprise he was moved that I had connected with the work on that level. No essay; but, a few years later I wrote my dissertation, comparing the theme of unrequited love in Werther and one of Goethe’s later works, so it came in the end. The dissertation is somewhere on a floppy disc, probably by now corrupted and with no hard copy, it’s as if, physically, it never was. But it started something that has had a life all of its own.'
About the author:
Abby Ladbrooke has completed creative writing courses with Maggie Hammond, Howard Cunnell, Naomi Wood and Christie Watson.
She grew up in Australia, went on to graduate with a First in German from Manchester and has lived in Germany and The Netherlands. Now living in south London she co-founded a boutique recruitment and development enterprise in 2003, which is based in London Bridge.
The Neverborn is her debut novel.