Fran Littlewood’s debut novel, “Amazing Grace Adams,” published by Editura Trei in Romania, has garnered worldwide attention within just six months of its release in the UK. A New York Times bestseller already translated into 11 languages, the British author’s novel is set to be adapted into a television series. According to The BookSeller, the television rights have been acquired by the producer of the popular series “Mare of Easttown.”
Touching on contemporary themes, Fran Littlewood writes with depth and often dark humor about various life situations that resonate with many readers. These themes include the mother-daughter relationship, the immense challenges faced by parents of modern-day teenagers, romantic relationships, love at first sight (and beyond), and tragedies that seem to halt the world. The narrative also explores the unsuccessful management of the emotional cocktail of perimenopause, stress, unfulfilled careers, and many other aspects of life. However, the multitude of themes is subordinated to a central idea that governs the entire novel: the impact of spoken or unspoken words on people and their relationships. Words can build bridges or destroy relationships, bringing coherence to a person’s inner world or leading them into a labyrinth without an exit.
The story unfolds over a single and memorably unhappy day in the life of Grace Adams, a 45-year-old woman. Stuck in the nightmarish London traffic, personifying a malevolent entity of metal and gray smoke, Grace abandons her car and embarks on a challenging journey on foot to the other end of the city. Her mission is to deliver a £200 cake, a costly peace offering, to her estranged 16-year-old daughter on her birthday. This provoking journey becomes an initiatory path where Grace revisits crucial events from four months ago and over a decade and a half. These events are the ones that brought Ben, her future husband, into her life, the birth of their daughter Lotte, and the various life occurrences that transformed the remarkable Grace Adams into a neurotic woman at odds with public order.
Grace is not just a beautiful face; she is also a language prodigy, hailed as the best in the UK. She fluently speaks French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, and Dutch, and at the age of 28, she won the Polyglot of the Year award. Ben had never met anyone like her. “The first time I saw her, she was speaking in unknown languages,” he thought. “The second time she saved a woman’s life. The third time I saw her, she was a television star. The fourth time, she had you,” he contemplated as he looked at his daughter.
Like her husband, the extraordinary Grace effortlessly juggles multiple languages and understands the foreign meanings of most. However, life forces her to name realities for which, it seems, there are no fitting words. Just like Odysseus on his journey home, Grace traverses London, going through humorous adventures described by the author. The journey is also one into her own past, an effort to understand what drove her family members apart. What caused her to lose her true self? Where did the remarkable Grace disappear, and when did the frustrated, unkempt woman emerge, unable to even hold down a mediocre part-time job? “She shouldn’t have let the silence bloom, take root, and envelop everyone like a shroud,” the narrative contemplates.
“She could have extracted the words, the devastating vocabulary that refused to be found. She should have rebuilt her family, painfully sentence by sentence, illuminating the mute darkness that swallowed them. She could have saved her family, but instead, she let it fall apart. Grace understands the irony. She speaks five languages, but she couldn’t find the words to articulate the wrenching of her heart, to navigate the sorrow of all.”