Katherine Scholes

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The Beautiful Mother

book | Fiction | Mar 2020
ANZ → Penguin Random House (Ed. Nikki Christer)

You are her mother in this moment. The future is another time.

In a remote part of Tanzania known as the Cradle of Humankind, Essie Lawrence lives with her husband in an archaeologist’s camp. One morning a chance encounter with two strangers out in the field sees her making a rash promise – one she has no idea how she can keep. When she returns home, she has a black baby in her arms, a motherless infant, too young even to have a name. From now until the coming of the rains, Essie is to care for the little girl. And then hand her back.

Bringing a baby to the research base is just the first of many taboos Essie is about to break. As she becomes immersed in a life-changing experience, she finds that her marriage, her career – everything she’s worked for – is put at risk. And as her heart opens up to new life and new love, she is led back into her past, to memories of her own mother and her first home on the island of Tasmania, at the far end of the world.

In the shadow of the Maasai Holy Mountain of God, on the shores of the flamingo lake, personal stories are played out alongside the Lawrences’ quest to find the origins of the human species. Nightmares and dreams go hand in hand. What is real and what will turn to dust? Whose wisdom will stand the test of time? And after a season of being a mother, will Essie be able to survive the hardest challenge of all? To love, and then let go…

An exquisite and heart-piercing story of one woman’s bond with a baby, The Beautiful Mother will resonate with every parent, crossing time, place and culture. It is an unforgettable exploration of what it really means to be a family, revealing the deep need we all have to find our own tribe.


Film Rights


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Kate Cooper manages the translation rights for The Beautiful Mother

Audio Rights


The audio rights are handled by Fiona Inglis.

Translation Rights Sold

Editions Belfond

Katherine Scholes is the queen of her craft. This is a beautiful story about the nature of belonging, entirely the right book for this moment.

Exquisite, highly intelligent fiction, beautifully realised.

Heather Rose, author of The Museum of Modern Love

It is a joyful revelation to be transported into the lives and lands of The Beautiful Mother.  Such an evocative exploration of humanity and connection. 

Jocelyn Nettlefold, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Fiona Inglis

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Translation Rights
Kate Cooper
+44 020 7393 4425
Email Kate Cooper