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The Accidental by Ali Smith

The Accidental (2005)

by Ali Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,206902,943 (3.2)1 / 292
  1. 10
    Bee Season by Myla Goldberg (sharlene_w)
  2. 00
    The Past by Tessa Hadley (shaunie)
    shaunie: Both feature families retreating to an idyllic summer house, but Hadley's book thankfully doesn't have the clever-clever touches which sometimes mar Smith's work.
  3. 01
    Case Histories: A Novel by Kate Atkinson (Sarasamsara)

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English (88)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All (90)
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
This is a quirky story told from the perspective of each member of a family who rent a holiday home in the English countryside for the summer. When a mysterious stranger arrives, you get a facet of her from each description but never enough to complete the whole picture of who she might be. There’s a twist in the tale once the mother throws her out though.

It’s so often true that, within a family, walls exist which prevent us seeing others and others seeing us as we truly are. We will, however, often let strangers see parts of us that we keep hidden from our relatives. The Accidental shows what can happen when that occurs.

This is not an excellent novel, but it is good enough because it asks questions about how we view ourselves, the views of ourselves we present to others and about our own views of others. Throughout the book, you are often presented with two or more views of a character and so you are forced to face your own interpretation of who they are. I thought it was creative to do that by throwing a stranger into the mix.

It’s very readable too, so if you’re looking to add a quick one to your 1001 books tally, this’ll do nicely. ( )
  arukiyomi | Dec 31, 2016 |
My thoughts on this novel are similar to many other readers. I enjoy the first half or so and then lost track of where the narrative was going. I bought in to the idea that Amber was some angelic being who had come to fix a troubled family but couldn't fit the ending in to this narrative at all. I have really enjoyed the other Ali Smith novels I have read and I see that this is experimental and her beautiful writing shines though but I struggled with the actual story. ( )
  Tifi | Oct 21, 2016 |
'could it sometimes take an outsider to reveal to a family that it was a family?', 6 May 2012
sally tarbox

This review is from: The Accidental (Paperback)
I enjoyed the first 200 pages or so. A mysterious stranger, Amber, turns up at the holiday home of a deeply troubled- albeit ostensibly successful- family. The author writes from the point of view of each character in turn; I found her
narratives in the voices of the children particularly compelling.
But then I couldn't get to grips with the fuzzy sort of ending.
Why did the parents turn on Amber to the extent the kids couldn't even say her name?
I'd thought she was some sort of angelic being sent to fix things but mother didn't seem very sorted by the end (or was breaking away from her husband the resolution? What about her leaving the kids behind?)
Felt like a waste of time reading it in light of the end. But the writing style is undeniably brilliant in parts. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
I am not sure what I thought about this book. I enjoyed parts of it but it wasn't one that I didn't want to put down. I didn't understand how the people changed after meeting Amber. I may giver Ali Smith's other books a try but not positive I will. ( )
  crazy4reading | Jun 8, 2016 |
Absolutely loved everything about this book - beautifully written, great storytelling. The Simple complexities of life. ( )
  nigeljaycooper | May 11, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
Ms. Smith can do suicidal teenage angst and middle-aged ennui, a 12-year-old's sardonic innocence and an aging Lothario's randy daydreams with equal aplomb. And in riffing on the stream of consciousness form, pioneered by such high-brow litterateurs as Joyce and Woolf, she manages to make it as accessible and up to the minute (if vastly more entertaining) as talk radio or an Internet chat room.
The awkwardness of the novel's moralizing is all the more disconcerting given its fine, lustrous texture on the page. Smith is a wizard at observing and memorializing the ebb and flow of the everyday mind — Astrid musing that "hurtling sounds like a little hurt being, like earthling, like something aliens from another planet would land on earth and call human beings who have been a little bit hurt." The close-up is Smith's forte. Her long shots need a little work.

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, Aliprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, RuthNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, StinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Neill, HeatherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Between the experience of living a normal life at this moment on the planet and the public narratives being offered to give a sense to that life, the empty space, the gap, is enormous" -John Berger/

"Shallow uniformity is not an accident but a consequence of what Marxists optimistically call late capitalism" -Nick Cohen/

"The whole history dwindled soon into a matter of little importance but to Emma and her nephews:-- in her imagination it maintained its ground, and Henry and John were still asking every day for the story of Harriet and the gypsies, and still tenaciously setting her right if she varied in the slightest particular from the original recital" -Jane Austen/

"Many are the things that man Seeing must understand. Not seeing, how shall he know What lies in the hand Of time to come?" - Sophocles/

"My artistry is a bit austere." -Charlie Chaplin/
for Philippa Reed, high hopes/ Inuk Hoff Hansen, far away so close/Sarah Wood, The wizard of us
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My mother began me one evening in 1968 on a table in the cafe of the town's only cinema.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141010398, Paperback)

Before writing The Accidental, Ali Smith wrote Hotel World, shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize, and several short story collections. Her work is absolutely original, with a trademark quirky style, with whole passages that seem to have been bound into the wrong book and occasional historical asides completely outside the narrative line. Don't be fooled; with Smith, every word has a purpose.

Amber is the catalyst who makes the novel happen. She appears on the doorstep of the Smart's rented summer cottage in Norfolk, England, barefoot and unexpected. Eve Smart, a third-rate author suffering writer's block, believes that she is a friend of her husband's. Michael is a womanizing University professor, but he doesn't usually drag his quarry home. He thinks that she must be a friend of Eve's. Everyone is politely confused and Amber is invited to dinner. She is a consummate liar and manipulator who manages to seduce everyone in the family in some significant way.

Magnus, Eve's 17-year-old son from a former marriage and Astrid, her 12-year-old daughter, are easy prey. Magnus is in despair. He played a prank on a classmate and it went horribly wrong when she killed herself because of the humiliation it caused. He cannot shake the guilt and is about to hang himself from the shower rod when Amber walks into the bathroom, the perfect deus ex machina. She bathes him and takes him back downstairs, announcing that she found him trying to kill himself. Everyone titters. Could it be possible? This is a recurring question as Amber's behavior becomes more and more outrageous. Is this really happening, or is it some family-wide delusion? To add to the mystery, there is a Rashomon-like character to the story in that the same events are recalled by the Smarts through their own filters.

This is a completely engrossing novel that raises as many questions as it answers. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:02 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

'The accidental' pans in on the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family one hot summer. There, a beguiling stranger called Amber appears at the door bearing all sorts of unexpected gifts, trampling over family boundaries and sending each of the Smarts scurrying from the dark into the light.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141010398, 0143566504, 0241954568

HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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