Paul Torday

Paul Torday was born in 1946 and died after a long illness in December 2013. He read English Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford, was married with two sons by a previous marriage and two stepsons. He lived in Northumberland and spent much of his life in industry, but in the last years of his life was a prolific and highly original, prize-winning novelist.

Books by Paul Torday

More Than You Can Say
On this showing, Torday has become an accomplished storyteller, able to develop a quirky plotline with aplomb.’ – Mail on Sunday. Richard Gaunt is in trouble. An ex-soldier, he’s haunted by a terrifying tour of duty in Iraq. His relationship has collapsed, he can’t hold down a job – any job – and his late night card sessions in a west London club have racked up a stack of debt. With – seemingly – nowhere to go but up … he recklessly accepts a challenge from one of his gambling cohorts, and sets out to walk to Oxford (from London) in the dead of night. Things go entirely haywire when he’s bundled into the boot of a car, taken to a country house and persuaded, by a mysterious Mister Khan, to marry an unknown woman, for £10,000. This Buchan-esque set up pitches Gaunt into a thrilling adventure, with man on the run chases, encounters with the secret service and terrorists, mansion house hide-aways and a deadly political plot, with Gaunt’s mysterious bride as the beautiful lynchpin.
World Rights: Orion

The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers
‘a tragicomical contemporary morality tale packed with wit, pathos and sharp class observation.’ Wendy Holden, Daily Mail
Hector Chetwode-Talbot, Eck to his friends, has left the army after a rather nasty moment in Colombia. From a privileged background, he is slightly at a loss as to what to do next, when he is approached by an old army pal, Bilbo Mountwilliam. Bilbo runs an investment fund company and business is booming. Bilbo persuades Eck to join the company as a ‘greeter’, for a person with Eck’s list of contacts is an easy route to a rich seam of moneyed clients. All Eck has to do is supply the contacts with entertainment and large G&Ts and then the fund managers will do the rest. Soon Eck is able to buy himself a luxury sports car and decadent flat in the city. All that is missing in his life is a woman. It is on a golfing trip to France with his friend Henry Newark that Eck first meets Charlie Summers, a fly-by-night entrepreneur who is hiding out in France after a ‘misunderstanding with Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue’. Charlie’s latest scheme is to import Japanese dog food into the UK. Henry casually mentions that Charlie should ‘look us up’ if he is ever in Gloucestershire. Not only does Charlie Summers look Henry up, he arrives with his suitcase, intent on staying with the Newarks and relaunching his dog food business in their area. But with the financial crash looming, Eck begins to ask himself if they are so very different…
World Rights: Orion
Rights sold: Bulgarian (Colibri)

Girl On The Landing
“You think you know someone – but you never really do.”
Michael is wealthy, decent, boring and locked into the routine of working as Secretary to his gentleman’s club in Mayfair, or else stalking deer on his estate in Perthshire: someone whose idea of an adrenalin rush is playing bridge after dinner.
Elizabeth his wife has married him – not exactly for his money, but not exactly for love, either. Their marriage is passionless and monotonous: on their honeymoon night, Michael’s first thought is to hang his trousers in a trouser press and make sure his shoes have shoe trees in them. Dreary weeks are spent in the dank and gloomy house in a Scottish glen that Michael inherited from his parents. Then, on a visit to friends in Ireland, something appears to trigger a change in Michael’s behaviour. On the way back, Elizabeth tells herself: ‘There was something different about Michael’. And there is: life with Michael suddenly becomes so much more fun….and Elizabeth sees glimpses of a man she could finally fall in love with.
But who – or what – is changing Michael? Who is the girl on the landing? And what does she want…
World Rights: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Rights Sold: Italy (Elliot Edizioni); Finland (Atena Kustannus); Large Print (BBC Audiobooks); Taiwan (Owls);
Film Option: Girl on the Landing Limited
Publication date: February 2009

The irresistible inheritance of Wilberforce
This compulsive study of addiction proves Torday’s mastery of the dark, as well as the light, realms of fiction’The Times
‘Wilberforce’s eyes went up to the ceiling, so that he did not seem to know how his glass went up full to his mouth and came down empty.
’ – W.M.Thackeray from Vanity Fair.
Wilberforce’s life is coming to an early end; in the late stages of a terminal (and hugely expensive) addiction to fine wines (especially vintage Bordeaux from the grandest and most expensive chateaux), he is diagnosed as suffering from Wernicke’s encephalopathy, a condition found in extreme cases of alcoholism. A major symptom of this illness is false memory, caused by a chemical side effect in the liver as excessive alcohol starts to shut down its functions. And so it is, that one moment Wilberforce is enjoying a glass in a plush London eaterie… and the next he is in Bogota, being pursued by something unspeakable… Bordeaux is a story about addiction – the outer symptom of an inner emptiness.
World Rights: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Rights Sold: US (Harcourt), Germany (Berlin Verlag), France (Lattes), Japan (Hakusui Sha), Italy (Elliot Edizioni); Large Print (Chivers), Unabridged Audio (WF Howes)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Utterly charming and extremely funny’ – Irish Times.
A witty and moving satire on ‘new / spin’ government, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is also an examination of faith. When Dr Alfred Jones is asked to look into the possibility of introducing salmon into the Yemen, he concludes that it is – quite obviously – a venture doomed to failure. Biologically, it can’t work.
But forced to pursue it, by those that wield power in the corridors of Whitehall, his meetings with the wealthy Yemeni sheikh behind the idea, force him to re-evaluate the project, and his life in general.
World Rights: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Rights Sold: US (Harcourt), Germany (Berlin Verlag), Spain (Ediciones Salamandra), Sweden (Brombergs), Israel (Kinneret), Italy (Rizzoli), France (Editions J C Lattes), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk), Portugal (ASA), Turkey (Arkabahce Yayincilik), Iceland (Edda), Greece (Minoas), Russia (AST), Japan (Hakusui Sha), Czech Republic (Jota), Croatia (Naklada Ljevak), Poland (Wydawnictwo Literackie), Hungary (Jaffa), Romania (EDITURA LEDA), China (Owl Publishing), Brazil (Editora Record), Netherlands (Arena), Slovenia (Modrijan)
Paul Torday is represented at Jenny Brown Associates by Stan –