An unknown Irish author has received a  $1 million advance from her publishers, Grand Central in the US and Little Brown in Britain, for a two-book deal.

Kathleen MacMahon, a journalist with RTE News (Ireland's state broadcaster) will have her debut novel, "So

This is How it Ends", published next year. Translation rights are also being negotiated.

The book will tell the story of a love affair between a 50-year-old American who travels to Ireland to escape the financial crisis and trace his roots, and a 38-year-old unemployed Irish architect.

RTE reports, a senior editor at Little Brown, Rebecca Saunders, described it as a "love story for our times". She believes it will resonate with both men and women of all ages.

MacMahon's agent, Marianne Gunne O'Connor, described her as a natural storyteller who has written a very special book. She commented on what an amazing book deal this is considering what a difficult year this has been for the book trade.

The deal was the talk of the London Book Fair and was the highest deal signed off on.