Addition by Toni Jordan
This is another very unconventional love story, (see also Something Beginning With a few posts down).
Grace has a form of OCD that makes her count everything and ritualise her life in numbers. This makes doing anything out of the ordinary worrying, and Grace is no longer able to work as a teacher. She lives on her own in a small flat and a set routine for her daily life and limited contact with the rest of her family. The only real escape from this is in her fantasies of her hero – the maverick Szerbian scientist Nikola Tesla – also a counter, and the genius who invented radio and AC electricity.
Then one day at the supermarket Grace fills her basket with all the usual items, but when she gets near the checkout she finds she is one banana short! A nice looking man close by has some, so she contrives to take one from his basket – he won’t notice will he? Fortunately for her, he does and his name is Seamus. He is intrigued by this woman, asks her out and thus begins the central romance of the story.
Over the book’s chapters, one for each letter in Grace’s full name, the author teases out Grace and Seamus’s relationship, as Seamus does to Grace’s family history, to try and find out the triggers for her counting. Grace is besotted and surrenders herself to Seamus totally – but it’s not all plain sailing of course as Grace is forced to relive episodes in her life that she has blotted out. Grace and Seamus are both likeable characters, she’s witty and surprisingly earthy, he’s a great teddy bear of a man with a twinkle in his eye. They take you with them on all the ups and downs of their fledgling relationship.
What does intrude slightly into the story is Grace’s obsession with Tesla. Interspersed with the romance, we learn about Tesla’s life, his grand projects, his great ideas, and his own obsesssions. Tesla is very much everyone’s favourite mad scientist these days – he recently got more of a starring role in Samantha Hunt’s orange nominated novel, a major cameo in The Prestige by Christopher Priest, (both of which I really enjoyed), as well as popping up in An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – a YA novel which I’ve yet to read. All these books featuring him just make me want to go and read their source material – notably biographies of the man by Margaret Cheney and Mark J Seifer.
All that said, I really enjoyed this novel. The author, an Australian, writes directly with great wit and handles the aspects of mental health within robustly yet with understanding She is also capable of bringing a tear to my eye, and I was sorry when it ended.