Trapeze has swooped for a “powerful and engrossing” debut novel by writer and teacher Carla Jenkins in a two-book deal. Editorial Director Sareeta Domingo signed UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Madeleine Milburn at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency, who saw off competition from nine other agents to represent the author. Fifty Minutes will publish in hardback in May 2024, with Carla’s follow-up novel due to publish in 2025.

Fifty Minutes explores the exploitative relationship between a young and vulnerable working-class woman and her older, male therapist. Dani – desperate to overcome her psychological demons so that she can quit her job at the supermarket canteen and return to university – takes the brave and costly decision to enrol with a psychotherapist. Richard, whom she initially views as her superior not only in age, but in education and class, makes her feel safe and calm, and her symptoms and relationships improve as he skillfully unpicks her self-loathing. She (somewhat unsurprisingly) has fantasies about him and is delighted when he (surprisingly) initiates an affair. It quickly becomes a maelstrom of manipulation, a relentless power struggle. And, when Dani finally realises that the relationship is exploitative and Richard then denies its existence, she becomes set on revenge…

Domingo said: “Carla’s writing is immediate, powerful and engrossing, and Dani is a character that it’s impossible not to root for. I was completely drawn in right from the outset. Trapeze is the home of conversation-starting books, and Fifty Minutes is exactly that, taking as its foundation the under-examined fact that anyone in the UK can currently set themselves up as a therapist, and entering into a brilliant dissection of gender and sexual power dynamics. Carla’s ideas are electric and original, confronting important issues in society today in an accessible and commercial way. She’s a special talent, whose career I’m thrilled to be building from the ground up for our list.”

Jenkins commented: “Fifty Minutes tells the story of Dani, a young woman whose voice demands to be heard, so I am delighted her story is getting out there. I feel privileged to have such an exceptional agent in Maddy and such an intuitive and ambitious editor in Sareeta who share my passion for exploring hard-hitting themes. I’m truly excited to be embarking on this journey with this superb and committed team.”

Milburn added: “Nine other agents were keen to represent Carla as she’s a vital new voice in society today, and her truly engaging protagonist inspires conversations about womanhood, class and mental health in a story that sheds a powerful light on the fact that psychotherapy is an unregulated profession, meaning anyone can set themselves up as one, something that is terrifying in a country where we have a growing mental health crisis with young people worst affected. I’m thrilled that Trapeze will be launching Carla’s conversation-starting novel that book clubs will devour.”