Penguin Michael Joseph has acquired “an emotional roller-coaster of a novel,” Amazing Grace, written in lockdown by debut author Fran Littlewood, in a "major" pre-empt.
Publisher Jessica Leeke acquired world rights to two novels by Littlewood from Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit UK.
The publisher described Amazing Grace as “an emotional roller-coaster of a novel” and “a tender, relatable exploration of a woman’s late coming of age and breaking free”.
The synopsis reads: “Amazing Grace introduces one-time TV star Grace Foster, who has lost everything and is losing it. Estranged from her husband and child, and newly fired from the job she has held for the past 20 years, she sets off on foot across north London, armed with a ‘Love Island’-themed cake, to win back her teenage daughter on her 16th birthday. She gave birth, blinked and now suddenly she is 45—the unhappiest age you can be, according to the Guardian—perimenopausal and stuck. Her heart broken, her mind and body betraying her, Grace is sure of one thing: she’ll go to the ends of the earth to put the pieces of her family back together.”
Leeke said: “We were undone by the emotional heft of Grace’s story. I said to Fran, ‘You are going to have to get used to women of all ages needing to talk to you about this book.’ Because whether you are in the middle of this age and stage, anticipating it from a near distance, or simply reliving it, you can’t fail to respond to Grace and what she’s going through. This is an unputdownable tragicomedy about a woman’s strength, an invisible everywoman in the middle of her life pushed to the brink, who understands it’s time to push back.”
Littlewood said: “I was completely stunned by the visceral response to Amazing Grace from Jess Leeke and Louise Moore and the team at Penguin Michael Joseph. I wrote the book during lockdown in an intense bubble and really had no idea how it would go down. From the moment Jess got in touch, I knew we were on exactly the same page and I feel so incredibly lucky I get to work with her. My genius agent Hellie Ogden cheered me on from the start and she couldn’t have found a more perfect home for the book.”
Ogden said: “I’ve longed to represent a novel that explores with raw honesty what happens to a woman after 40. Amazing Grace unpicks the chaos of menopause, the taboos of a mind and body unravelling, all wrapped in the tender story of a broken heart and the search for redemption. Fran has written a knockout debut that broke my heart and the team at Penguin Michael Joseph reacted with a speed and determination that blew us away.”