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Review: The Accidental by Ali Smith

May 21, 2012
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The Accidental coverTitle: The Accidental
Author: Smith, Ali
Length: 306 pages
Genre: Fiction
Publisher / Year: Penguin / 2006
Source: Bookmooch
Rating: 3.5/5
Why I Read It: I’d heard good things about the author.
Date Read: 07/04/12

Told in the various voices of the Smart family, the mother Eve, her children Astrid and Magnus, and Eve’s partner Michael, we follow the family over the course of one summer vacation in which they invite a complete stranger into their life and vacation home. This event (which seems rather unbelievable to me) affects them all in different ways, causing their life path to change drastically.

It was an interesting narrative method that Smith uses. Each chapter the voice changes, and each is quite unique and easy to place. We are inside the characters heads and follow their thoughts which are often disjointed, jumping around to random things. It took a bit to get used to, but then it felt almost like following your own thoughts in a way. This allowed the author to include the perspective of each character, and to show the ways in which they wanted to be seen as well as the ways they actually acted and thought. That filter we place on ourselves wasn’t there, as we are inside their thoughts listening in.

Various issues are discussed in the book including the rights of a writer, relationships with students, bullying and teen suicide. Despite all of these topics, the book still felt like a light and easy read. The heavy topics are more background items that the characters have to deal with, and we see the ways in which the various issues affect the families lives, but they remain background items.

An interesting book, though certainly not a favorite, it nonetheless kept me entertained for a few hours. Recommended for lovers of British fiction.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2012 4:23 pm

    Hello Amy,

    I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award.

    Do check out http://logo-ligi.com/2012/05/21/sunshine-award/ for rules on accepting

  2. zibilee permalink
    May 21, 2012 8:48 pm

    I have always been a little curious about this book, and have wanted to find out why it was so popular among all her fans. I really think that this would be a great distraction read, but might not stick with me for long. I am going to have to think on this. Very perceptive review today.

    • May 24, 2012 8:28 am

      I think it is a book that you would really enjoy zibilee, but that is just a guess :) It deals with issues you read about a lot – families falling apart due to a variety of events and the like.

  3. May 22, 2012 5:59 am

    I ve yet to read smith ,all I think I ve read by her is the intro to the Muriel Spark book I read last month ,not sure I will unless one falls on my lap either cheap second hand or via family or friends ,all the best stu

    • May 24, 2012 8:27 am

      Oh interesting that she had an introduction in that one Stu. I found this one second hand, so good luck to you doing the same :)

  4. May 22, 2012 9:43 am

    I think this particular type of narrative adds a sense of reality to the plot. Makes the whole work believable and also gives the reader a first had experience with the various characters

    • May 24, 2012 8:26 am

      Yes, it really did give a good feel for each of the characters, so I definitely agree with you readinpleasure.

  5. May 23, 2012 12:58 pm

    I have this but haven`t read it yet. My one experience with Ali Smith was really good, but that`s all I have read by her…

    • May 24, 2012 8:26 am

      I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed other works by her Kailana. I will have to branch out and try more as well.

  6. May 23, 2012 1:08 pm

    I really enjoyed Smith’s HOTEL WORLD, which was pretty experimental (sort of stream-of-consciousness). I started this one, but it just didn’t invite me in in the same way.

    • May 24, 2012 8:25 am

      I’d heard much about Smith previously, that being one of the books that people mention Andi. Knowing you liked it more, I’ll have to move it up on my list!

  7. May 23, 2012 4:20 pm

    I heard divided opinions on this. I have a copy on the shelf, will give it a go some day!

  8. buriedinprint permalink
    May 29, 2012 11:14 am

    I’ve read Hotel World and a collection of short stories, and it does feel like she reads easily, but I always feel like there’s a whole other book in between the lines, and that slows me up. So I’ve got a copy of this one, but it hasn’t felt like the right reading time for it yet…

    • May 31, 2012 2:12 pm

      Sounds really interesting BIP, I’m intrigued to look for further works by her in the future :)

  9. May 31, 2012 10:44 am

    “It kept me entertained for a few hours”? Now that’s damning with faint praise!

    • May 31, 2012 2:12 pm

      I don’t know Nose in a Book, what more do we really look for in books, at the basest level? ;)

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