The Accidental

The Accidental

Book - 2005 | 1st American ed
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A finalist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award, The Accidental is the virtuoso new novel by the singularly gifted Ali Smith. Jonathan Safran Foer has called her writing "thrilling." Jeanette Winterson has praised her for her "style, ideas, and punch." Here, in a novel at once profound, playful, and exhilaratingly inventive, she transfixes us with a portrait of a family unraveled by a mysterious visitor. 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. As Amber insinuates herself into the family, the questions of who she is and how she's come to be there drop away. Instead, dazzled by her seeming exoticism, the Smarts begin to examine the accidents of their lives through the searing lens of Amber's perceptions. When Eve finally banishes her from the cottage, Amber disappears from their sight, but not - they discover when they return home to London - from their profoundly altered lives. Fearlessly intelligent and written with an irresistible blend of lyricism and whimsy, The Accidental is a tour de force of literary improvisation that explores the nature of truth, the role of chance, and the transformative power of storytelling.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2005
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780375422256
0375422250
Branch Call Number: x
Characteristics: 305 p. ; 22 cm

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GLNovak
Sep 21, 2013

This book is definitely not everyone's cup of tea. Not mine, as it turned out. The story is of a family vacationing in Norfolk who take in a woman who they think one of them knows (we are not sure about that), and the effect she has on their lives. The writing is inventive - and at one point done in blank verse and another in sonnet form (I think). Very much a stream of scenes requiring you to try to fill in the blanks and make sense of what the author is showing you. I found the story-telling too disjointed and persevered by skimming and not trying to analyze too much, and have to say that maybe at the end I made some order out of what I had previously read, or maybe not. I won't read any more by this author.

m
MelissaBee
Feb 14, 2013

"The Accidental" is a fun-house-mirror of a book with a chapter by chapter shift of first person, stream of consciousness narrative, building a bizarre but engaging tale of deception, self perception, representation, pain, and redemption.

At first, I found the steam of consciousness narative voice made for tiring reading but grew to appreciate the ability of the author to create such a realistic portrayal of the monkey-mind at work. As the mix of characters interacted the story line became very compelling and gave me the energy to read to the end.

This title will not be a match for every reader, but I found it worthwhile to stick with the author's challenging but excellent writing and continue to think about the interesting tale.

r
ravensview
Aug 13, 2011

Via another newspaper review - good book. Interesting POF - mostly that of 12 yr old hyperactive girl. Astrid. And a peculiar catalyst, Amber, that comes into her life - and that of her parents Michael and Eve. Nice twist at the end too.

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