Commissioning editor Thorne Ryan pre-empted world English language rights from Broo Doherty at DHH Literary Agency.
A first-person narrative, the book tells the story of Rosa Kusstatscher, the founder of a global fashion empire, who looks back on her life to take readers from a village high in the mountains of Italy, where she started out as a poor country girl, through Nazi occupation to hope and heartbreak in Switzerland, glamour and love in Paris, ambition and devastation in Rio de Janeiro, and success and self-discovery in New York.
According to the author, the book was in part inspired by the lives of her grandmother and mother, as well as her own. Kaufmann was born and grew up in north London but has lived all over the world. In the mid-90s she gave up her career as a demographic anthropologist to bring up her children and write.
"The voice of Rosa first appeared like a muse in the spring of 1985, and never went away," she said, "Although The Dressmaker of Paris is not autobiographical, it has threads from the lives of my grandmother, mother and mine stitching Rosa’s story together, so it is very close to my heart and I am thrilled that Hodder has given me the chance to share it with the world."
Ryan said: "As soon as I started reading The Dressmaker of Paris I knew I had to publish it. The writing has a beautiful, lyrical quality the reader can sink into like a hot bath, and the unusual framing device of having the point-of-view character tell their story to a mysterious listener provides a unique reading experience. And all this alongside a plot, characters and atmosphere that keep you glued to the page. This is the epitome of my dream book."
The Dressmaker of Paris will publish in hardback and e-book in January 2021.