Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Addition by Toni Jordan

Sceptre €11.95

THERE’S safety in numbers, and for Grace Vandenburg, everything counts.
Although Grace lives in modern Australia and he died long ago in New York, she’s in love with Nikola Tesla, inventor of radio (Marconi stole his idea) and discoverer of the uses of electricity, magnetism, the AC motor, robotics and radar.
Like Grace, Nikola counted everything: staying only in hotel rooms with numbers divisible by 3, he ate every night at 8pm with 18 napkins folded beside him, mentally calculating the cubic volume of each forkful.
Grace hasn’t worked since she froze one day in the schoolyard and was carted off to hospital. She wakes every morning at 5.55 exactly, and rises at 6am, ready to brush her teeth with 160 brushstrokes.
It doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, but this is a book that causes snorts of laughter.
Grace’s sister, for instance, is happily married - “stuck in wedded purgatory with that Blackberry-wielding ferret. He’s got the sex appeal of a hard drive.”
Her niece Larry (short for Hilary) is Grace’s favourite person, the one who finally explains that there’s a difference between average, median and mode.
When Grace meets Seamus Joseph O’Reilly, they fall madly (of course) in love.
Seamus is Mr Average. “Medium looks, works at the box office, likes football and barbecues.”
Soon he starts gently trying to save her from the numbers. Within 3.33 seconds she’s in behavioural therapy with a bunch of germophobe obsessives and Francine, their therapist (who dips apples in toilets and eats them to prove it’s ok).
Under the influence of all the normalising pills, Grace’s brain divides into a squabbling pair.
Her story ends happily, with every reader cheering and laughing to the finale.
A bizarre, quirky book, you wouldn’t imagine you’d love this, but it’s the kind of thing that gets passed from reader to reader with enthusiastic recommendations.

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