A woman walks across London to deliver a birthday cake for her 16-year-old daughter, reliving the joys and tragedies of the previous decades.
Grace Adams is in her mid-40s, late 20s, and mid-30s in this layered novel exploring her past and present relationships with her husband, Ben, and daughter, Lotte. In the present, Grace is trekking across London on a scorching hot day, having abandoned her car to gridlock, refusing to give up on a plan to see a daughter who doesn’t want to see her. Simultaneously, we see the Grace of four months ago, a harried, perimenopausal woman convinced she has ruined everything, and the Grace of the earlier 2000s, an award-winning linguist who’s landed a lucrative TV gig and has no intention of having children but who becomes a stay-at-home mother in crisis. Ben is a man who has filed for divorce, a harried husband grappling with being a dad to an 8-year-old daughter whose mother has disappeared, and a young Ph.D. student desperate to spend more time with an amazing woman he has just met. Lotte is a 15-turning-16-year-old child-woman doing poorly in school, finding social media fame, and challenging the establishment; a young child who adores her mother; and a growing, not-yet-born baby. The relationships between each pair and among all of them together are complex and layered, and Littlewood confronts the effects that aging and trauma, stress, poor decisions, and memories of overheard and unspoken conversations can have on a person’s sense of self and their relationships. The result is simultaneously frank, nuanced, and evocative.
A gripping story of joy, grief, stress, worry, love at first sight, parenting, and trauma.