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Accidents in the Home

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  272 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
A powerful literary debut chronicling a year in the life of one thoroughly modern family

Clare Verey, a twenty-nine-year-old mother of three, bakes her own bread and grinds her own spices. She has a comfortable home in the suburbs and a devoted husband. Why is it, then, that when her best friend's lover appears in her life he has the power to invert her world? Why is the de
Paperback, 264 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Picador (first published April 23rd 2002)
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Mar 28, 2011 Dorothy rated it liked it
I had not come across this author before reading a review of her latest novel so I looked for and found this one in our local library.
While the main character in the book is a housewife (Clare) with 3 children and an unfinished Ph.D thesis, it is divided up into sections each of which revolves around a member of her extended family, so that in some ways, it reads like a book of linked short stories. CLare's father has been married 3 times and produced children from each marriage so Chare has sev
Courtney Johnston
Aug 08, 2011 Courtney Johnston rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, borrowed
This book scared me. It scared me with the ease that the central character, bored suburban 29-year-old mother of three Clare, walked away from her life to try to recapture - in shameful, sad failure - what she once had, or the life she thought she might have.

It scared me with Hadley's ability to nail that nasty, shaming, nagging sense of dissatisfaction that creeps up on you, that feeling that you deserve - if not better, then different.

Clare thought while she was reading this novel that perhaps
Jun 27, 2015 Candice rated it really liked it
Hadley manages to take the predictable and make it unpredictable. In her work so far, she deals primarily with relationship/domestic themes, the small things that happen in people's lives. But the self-analysis that goes with it is what makes it interesting. She has excellent internal and external observations, once in a while reminds me a little of Doris Lessing. A line that made me laugh out loud: "Mrs. Tierney, with black dyed hair and a worn face and lipstick applied approximately to her ...more
Sara Strand
Jul 24, 2012 Sara Strand rated it it was ok
I got this book in the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble and it was good. A little different ending than I thought- but good nonetheless. It's about Clare, a 29 year old mom of 3 who is basically considered a stay at home mom. She's married and has, essentially, the perfect life. When her best friend visits with her new lover (whom Clare knows from years before) she suddenly realizes she wants more out of life. She is overwhelmed with her current life and is kind of jealous of the care free life ...more
Aug 28, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is my second Tessa Hadley book. She has a strong ability to capture the small moments in family life. Things like peeling potatoes while reviewing the details of purchasing lingerie in preparation for a tryst. Or throwing the pasta maker at your husband's new girlfriend. These small acts tell us about the dysfunction in the large blended Menges family. Graham marries three times and has children with each wife. Clare, Graham's first daughter, is a bored housewife, with an unfinished PhD in ...more
Ryan Williams
Jan 10, 2015 Ryan Williams rated it really liked it
Somehow the first book you read by an author colours everything by them you read afterwards. That's more or less the way I regard this book. It became the yardstick for everything else. Hadley has published shorter, longer and perhaps in some ways more aesthetically satisfying novels since, as well as a series of finely tuned tales in The New Yorker. But this was my first taste of...the magic.

(Incidentally, I would say this even if Hadley hadn't once been my teacher, and this book came out not l
Nov 17, 2016 Patricia rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
This is a well written novel with many unique characters, but the very complexity of this family is what caused me to rate it lower than I would have. So many wives and half-brothers and sisters that a family tree was necessary to keep them straight. The plot was sufficient to keep me reading until the ending, which was a little less than satisfactory, in my opinion. I read this because the author's breakout novel said unavailable at the time.
Oct 11, 2016 Kristin rated it really liked it
Currently my favorite writer. What Hadley does with language is pure genius. Her descriptive powers are stunning - the way she can make you see and understand a setting with just a few words. She is a wizard of word choice. In this novel, a woman isn't "beautiful," she is "grievously good to look at: tall and spare, all flat planes," and I can actually see her. Descriptions of the landscape are equally well-honed: "the ruined jetties of the old harbor marched out up to their knees in sleek gray ...more
Rosalind Minett
Jul 05, 2015 Rosalind Minett rated it really liked it
A book to read when you need to separate yourself from your daily preoccupations. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel although I found the title misleading and on reflection, inaccurate. The events in the many interwoven lives did not appear to be accidents, but reflections of the personalities portrayed. Clara begins the story, and so it is inevitable that main interest resides in her. That is not to say that all the other characters lack interest. I found all of them credible, perhaps especially ...more
Apr 05, 2009 Indigo rated it really liked it
The main issue in this book is sort of a love triangle between Clare, the main character, Helly, her best friend, and a man that is now with Helly, but was intimate with Clare a long time ago. It's not necessarily a love triagle because Clare is married with children and she wants to stay dedicated, but it does complicate things a lot. The book switches around a lot and looks at the other complex and messed up situations in other parts of Clare's family, like her father being re-married three ...more
Jul 25, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentfiction
I did really like this, not as much as the two more recent Hadley books that I read, but still a lot. It's a larger cast of characters, a family spreading out to mother and friends and complications. She manages to hurl all of these plates into the air and keep them spinning by doing what she does so well...linking stories together to create a world that moves in and out of different characters' lives and back and forth in time. It took me a while to keep the characters straight, and I did find ...more
Sonja Reid
Sep 10, 2008 Sonja Reid rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
I've read and loved short stories by Tessa Hadley in the New Yorker, but I haven't been so crazy about her novel. It contains some of the same wonderful observations of one's inner life that Hadley has done before. The plot involved many different characters in an extended family, and I couldn't keep them straight. Apparently others couldn't either since she included a genealogy at the front of the book. While I thought that the focus on the individual dissatisfactions of the characters was ...more
Jul 04, 2016 Flo rated it really liked it
It seems as if every adult in Tessa Hadley's excellent novel is an adulterer in some way. We are introduced to Clare, married and mother of three, planning an extramarital affair with her best friend's lover; Clare is the daughter of Graham who has apparently been unfaithful to two wives and is now married to a third whom he suspects of carrying on an adulterous affair. Other adults are involved in adultery throughtout this intelligent book, which portrays each adulterer from their individual ...more
Jun 05, 2016 Regina rated it it was amazing
Wickedly funny novel from one of my favorite writers.
Clare has everything sewn up in a perfect life of domestic bliss, but a visit from a childhood friend, now a successful model, and her glamorous boyfriend, wakes unacknowledged jealousy and rage. When she realizes there is a chink in the wall between her wife and mum life and her friend's, she throws herself at it with a sledgehammer and grabs what she can. Of course, not everything is as she imagined, and her old life intrudes. But no regrets
Nov 21, 2015 Sandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
I'm not sure but I suspect the writing of this is what is considered very 'telly'. Certainly I was conscious that while reading this my own writing gained momentum.
The thing is, the 'telling' emanates from an pen wielded by a writer whose imagination is informed by profuse and intelligent observation and understanding of human behaviour and who has the skill to wind this into words which tell a tale and thus entertain and make thoughtful the reader.
Characterisation is superb - and there are many
Mary-alice Frank
I struggled to keep tabs on the various members of this extended family of ex-wives and children of one man. The patriarch is a well-know artist who has 2 ex wives and a current wife with children from all. The children form their own extended family with the support of the ex-wives. The narrator is one of the daughters, whose own life is in shambles due to a fling which did not seem justified and which also leads complications with her best friend. Several of her other siblings flit in and out ...more
Jan 21, 2009 Upik rated it really liked it
Tessa Hadley forced me to rethink the idea of "family." Accidents in the Home demonstrates how ex-wives, half-siblings, the child of ex-husband, stepmother(s), stepgrandmother, all could melt into a family, essentially defined by this novel as people-accidentally-connected-by-marital-relations-but-are-nevertheless-loyal-to-one-another-and-constant-in-their-loyalty-and-love.

It does remind me of the first family here. :)

Mar 12, 2016 Elia rated it really liked it
This was my first read of Hadley's work. She's a "quiet" writer, but she so nails the small things of humanity that make us all up ... especially women. I went on to read another of hers, "Clever Girl," which I actually bought--something I almost never do anymore. Buy books, that is ... (thank god for libraries).
Apr 16, 2016 Erik rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book thoroughly as I have her other works of fiction. And this one is all the more remarkable for having been Hadley’s first novel. I was never less than fascinated with each of the characters that she introduces to us. They each seem fully realized and reflect the messiness of real life.
Kasey Jueds
Aug 30, 2009 Kasey Jueds rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I love all of Tessa Hadley's books. She writes so beautifully about women's lives, and the hard-to-put-into-words emotions that seem both confusing and universal. Whenever I read her I recognize myself in her characters, even though my outer life is very different from theirs: a cause for celebration, and one that always makes me feel companioned and comforted.
Feb 19, 2016 Connie rated it liked it
A whole cast of characters, difficult to keep track of each of these family members. Kept my interest, though I wasn't completely satisfied as I tried to get to know them. I would have liked a bit more back story on each, and a few less characters would have been fine. Sometimes less is more!
Skai Leja
Dec 26, 2009 Skai Leja rated it really liked it
I particularly liked the description of how one of the characters went about disengaging from her husband in anticipation of launching into an affair. It's not clear whether the affair is ever consummated but the marriage ends anyway. It's a small part of the book but particularly resonant to me...
Jun 21, 2016 Cristin rated it it was ok
There was a lot going on in this book, and in general it was good, but I had a difficult time feeling any sort of empathy for the characters. Not saying they were unlikable, but I did not form any feeling of attachment to them.
May 09, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it
This book has a large cast of characters. People are intertwined in marriages, affairs, and family relationships that are at times confusing. This is a book to read for its amazing prose. There is never a false note struck.
May 03, 2011 Kathleen rated it liked it
Tessa Hadley sure knows how to capitalize the "D" for a dysfunctional family. More women appear, and even a husband (Graham) who's had three wives and assorted children. The wives are either at war with each other or is sheltering one another. Such middle-aged tempatations!
Aug 12, 2009 Yak rated it liked it
Not bad. It has the feeling of a Joanna Trollope novel with a dollop of Iris Murdoch. The drawback is that there are too many characters in too short a book. Either cut down on the cast, or make the book a lot longer and spend more time with each.
Amy Rhodes
Dec 16, 2015 Amy Rhodes rated it it was ok
A well-written domestic drama but I didn't really buy the characters' motivations and could not bring myself to care. All sorts of blended families that ran together and ultimately did not matter to me.
Jan 06, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it
Another good read...well-written, in-depth portrait of the complications of modern families/love lives.
Jun 23, 2012 Lori added it
her writing style is beautiful but you end up hating all the characters, not one likeable thing about any of them
Jul 02, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. Perceptive, touching. Author has wonderfully precise and quirky gift for language. Recommend highly.
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Tessa Hadley is the author of Sunstroke and Other Stories, and the novels The Master Bedroom, Everything Will Be All Right, and Accidents in the Home. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, and teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University.
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