Told from multuple perspectives, The Accidental is the story of a British family that seems normal and happy on the surface, but something much more fragile lurks beneath this facade.
Astrid, the youngest member of the family at twelve years old, begins the story while the family is on vacation. Angsty and often irritated, Astrid's one hobby is the video camera her parents have purchased for her. Stepfather Michael, an English professor, makes his way around his university, sleeping with his female students. Eve, his wife, knows of his philandering, but like everything else, she covers it up. A writer, Eve suffers from a major block; her books are imaginary reconstructions of historical figures - what would have happened in their lives had they not passed away. Astrid's brother Magnus is almost suicidal from a prank in high school that he was not even responsible for.
The family's stories begin to unravel once a mysterious drifter, Amber, enters their lives. Eve thinks Amber is another of Michael's students he's sleeping with; Michael thinks she is one of Eve's friends. Each family member accepts her into the fold, despite her unconventional behaviors. When Eve gets fed up and finally kicks Amber out, the family members are forced to get a better grip on reality.
This book was drawn out and difficult to get into. It was interesting to see the different writing styles Smith used for each character, but the characters themselves were annoying and hard to sympathize with.