EXCLUSIVE: In feverish bidding, Fox Searchlight has acquired The Aftermath, a Scott Free-produced adaptation of the Rhidian Brook novel that has Keira Knightley and Alexander Skarsgard in talks to star, with James Kent directing. He helmed Testament Of Youth. Ridley Scott is producing.

Numerous companies vied for the package, but Searchlight closed the deal. Race scribes Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel adapted the screenplay.

The Aftermath book cover
Viking Books

The book, an international bestseller, is set in postwar Germany in 1946. Rachael Morgan arrives in the ruins of Hamburg in the bitter winter, to be reunited with her husband Lewis, a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city. But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an extraordinary decision: They will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower and his troubled daughter. In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.

Waterhouse and Shrapnel are repped by CAA, Grandview and Curtis Brown UK.