Could school gate politics replace mommy porn for women readers?

Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:33pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - A British writer whose debut novel about mothers at the school gate sparked a seven-way bidding war between publishers has attributed the overnight success of her book to striking a chord with women used to negotiating the politics of female groups.

The hype around "The Hive" led to Gill Hornby being described as publisher Little Brown's "most important new author of 2013" and NBC Universals' arthouse Focus Features snapped up the film rights even before the book's release on May 23.

Hornby said she was slightly bemused by all the attention for her book which hit the top 10 bestselling fiction list in the UK in its first week, drawing comparisons to the huge success of EL James's "Fifty Shades of Grey" series last year.

After all it is Hornby's first novel although she is far from new to publishing. She is married to Robert Harris, best-selling author of thrillers like "Enigma" and "Archangel" and her brother Nick Hornby wrote "High Fidelity" and "Fever Pitch".

Hornby, who has four children aged 12 to 22, said the book took her two years to write but was in her head for years.

"I've always been very conscious about the groups girls and women make but I was too busy living the life to write about it," Hornby told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"This book is based at a school but really it is about women and their relationships .. about ordinary, domestic life."

"The Hive" is based at a fictional school, St Ambrose Primary, in a smart English rural town, which has a new headmaster and a group of mothers committed to raising funds for his plan to build a new school library.   Continued...