Barbara J. Zitwer

The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society

Short Books/UK, 2012. American publication winter 2013 by Marble Arch Press/Simon and Schuster. Sold to Xander Uitgevers/Holland, world Spanish/Planeta, City Editions/France, Azbooka-Atticus/Russia, Allen & Unwin/Australia and New Zealand, Znak/Poland.
Film rights sold to Ealing Studios.

A warm-hearted, funny women’s novel that explores the hearts and minds of its female characters from the ages of fifteen to eighty-five. A book about the secret lives of women. Joey Rubin is a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker with a working girl's dream of a job and not much else. She is single, a workaholic and the only intimate relationship in her life is with her dog. She is sent to the English countryside to help renovate a stately ancient manor house where JM Barrie wrote Peter Pan. Her plan to turn the estate into an exclusive spa/resort, is challenged by the people who live in this real “never-neverland.” She is confronted with a cast of characters that could have jumped out of the pages of Peter Pan: a band of Lost Girls, who are 80, instead of 8! They seem to have never grown up and these octogenarians who are more like teenagers, dare Joey to come swim with them in their outdoor pond. She can’t resist!

She loses all abandon once she dives into the pond and thus begins an everlasting friendship the most unlikely group of women and a journey where she finds true love.

Als das Meer uns Gehörte / When the Sea belonged to Us

After the death of her husband, Tess Harding finds refuge with Robbie, her deaf son, in Montauk, a village on Long Island. Despite all her efforts, she does not manage to help her child manage the loss. Robbie blames her father's death, so Tess is afraid to lose him. Then they meet a marine biologist: Kip is in search of a whale with a singing singing. Robbie is fascinated by the animal and finds a way to track it in the sea. The encounter with the whale helps him overcome his isolation - and Tess has the first hope of a new beginning. A deaf boy, a woman who has lost her husband, a marine explorer - and a blue whale guiding her on a journey across the ocean.

Mermaid Yarn

Proposal available ; outline and sample text.  Complete manuscript due spring 2018.

New Yorker, red-headed Rosie Scott, a corporate business whiz, has worked in a world of men all her life. Being forced out of her job after being passed over for her rightful promotion that was given to a much young man, she is left disgusted and angry.    Married to a charming and bestselling crime novelist who adores her is not enough to make her happy; she’s always worked in London half the year and misses her high flying jet-set life style.   Suddenly at 41,  as a full time, stay at home wife, she’s ready to jump off the roof. She’s lost all romantic feelings for her husband.  She is horrified and saddened; has she fallen out of love with him? She cringes at his tender touch and is afraid to tell anyone about these new feelings that haunt her.   After another disastrous job interview,by chance she discovers Golda’s knitting ,a tiny mother-daughter shop that’s been handed down through generations for a hundred years.  After a few fits and starts, she takes to knitting like a duck to water.  And it becomes her job:  she becomes obsessed and is befriended by a group of women who couldn’t be more different than she.  After several months, she finally lands a real job that no one else wanted; to work in Seoul as the New York-Seoul liaison for a billion dollar development project for Jeju Island in Korea.  The development company is planning on turning the island into the Miami Beach of Korea.  But once in Korea, she meets the Haeyno women divers, a group of elderly women who inhabit the most beautiful and remote parts of Jeju island and whose existence is threatened by the developers.  

The Haeyno women produce a cellulose-based fiber yarn combined with seaweed. They have been a community for hundreds of years.  The structure of seacell facilitates the active exchange of substances between the fiber and the skin. Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin E are released by the natural body moisture when the fiber is worn. And this yarn when worn helps your skin and body.  The Haenyo wear it to protect themselves from the cold ocean and harsh weather.  Rosie immediately dubs it mermaid yarn and thinks it’s brilliant.  Now a confirmed knitter, she believes the yarn can be a big hit New York and that everyone in American and the world will love it. 

Rosie becomes so taken with the Haeyno women who mirror her friends in NY and their remote, island home.  She asks the Haeyno women if they can mass produce the yarn and she’ll sell it for them.  And she thinks that Golda’s knitting in NY could make a lot of money with this revolutionary new yarn.      Cleverly, she usurps her own company and instead helps the Haenyo women overcome the developers; of course she gets fired.  But she brings as much mermaid yarn back to NY in suitcases and can’t wait to tell her friends.  Rosie has a plan; with the Mermaid Yarn, the shop will become a hot spot.  She has all kinds of marketing ideas and sees sweaters and garments on the runway at fashion week.  Marc Jacobs, here we come.    Her ideas sound great to the mother & daughter owners, but they have lost their lease to a developer who bought their building and is throwing them out.  Everyone is devastated.  But now, Rosie is so excited about her discovery of mermaid yarn , and the Haeyno women and her knitting friend in NY that she talks them into joining forcing and relocating to Red Hook, Brooklyn – the young , trendiest neighborhood in Brooklyn.  If they all invest together , they can do it.   Months later, A beautiful five foot mermaid with knitting needles in hand and crafted out of wood is hung above the old factory that Rosie and Co. have rented.  Mermaid Yarn is in business and knitting is picking up; all the young, hipsters in Brooklyn want to knit.  Magazines feature the yarn and it goes viral.  Rosie arranges to bring some of the Haenyo women to NY for the first Mermaid Yarn fashion show.  It’s a huge success.   Through the personal journey Rosie goes through, she finds her own sense of womanhood and the way back to her husband, which is the best result of her transformation.  She learns that she isn’t defined by what she does ; there’s no competition between them.  She can finally reveal herself in full to him;  warts and all and they grow into a deeper and more profound relationship.