The Accidental – Ali Smith

accidental

READ FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Suzy

A 2005 novel which relays the consequences for a middle-class family when an uninvited visitor appears in their home while on holiday.

“I was really looking forward to reading this book for bookclub as I’d read such amazing reviews.  I didn’t follow it easily and this has been a repeating theme with most other Ali Smith books I’ve since read (Hotel World being the exception).  Unfortunately this is a reflection of my intellect rather than anything to do with the author! ” – Suzy

“Amber—thirtysomething and barefoot—shows up at the door of the Norfolk cottage that the Smarts are renting for the summer. She talks her way in. She tells nothing but lies. She stays for dinner.

Eve Smart, the author of a best-selling series of biographical reconstructions, thinks Amber is a student with whom her husband, Michael, is sleeping. Michael, an English professor, knows only that her car broke down. Daughter Astrid, age twelve, thinks she’s her mother’s friend. Son Magnus, age seventeen, thinks she’s an angel.

The Accidental is unlike any book I have read before. In it a stranger, a young woman, plants herself in the middle of a family in their holiday home. Each family member assesses her differently but ultimately all accept her a fixture. What she does is allow them to examine their own lives as they reflect off the stranger. At first I quite enjoyed discovering the novel’s unusual flow but sometimes it was almost too clever, making following the storyline difficult. Fantastically developed characters and a satisfying conclusion, though.” – Rachel

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Published 2005
Hamish Hamilton
320 pages

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