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The Accidental

3.3  ·  Rating details ·  7,968 Ratings  ·  908 Reviews
Winner of the Whitbread Award for best novel and a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, 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 transfi ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Anchor (first published May 26th 2005)
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Violet wells
I really enjoyed Ali Smith’s How to be Both; this one for me was more hit and miss.

A dysfunctional or normal family – pretty much the same thing nowadays – rents a holiday home in Norfolk. One day a mysterious stranger, a woman called Amber, arrives and ends up moving in with them. All four members of the family metaphorically are very much waiting for an amber light to turn to green and Amber’s redemptive role is to reveal how this light might be changed. The first problem for me was Amber her
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I feel like there was an age, or it IS that age, where writers love to explore with much keenness the family unit, for it is the perfect structure with which to scrutinize its individual parts ("The Corrections," "White Teeth," "The Red House," the list is almost infinite). & this one, a more accessible and modern "Sound and Fury" is a doozy. Like, what is happening here? is the main question through this dense but very readable firework of a novel. All four, or five, protagonists are given ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: Teresa
This was a fun and surprising read with lots of scintillating wonders in its delivery and content. It falls into the box of “experimental writing”, but it flows along so fast and spritely compared to many a turgid, self-important postmodern of doorstop dimensions. Ali’s opening epigraph from John Berger was a perfect set-up: “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 tat life, the empty space, the gap, i ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: smug male academics looking for inspiration
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I cannot believe this book is on the 1001 books list. Do the people who write the list not like people who read books anymore? Why would they punish us so? 1001 list writers, once again I question you. Why?

I didn't enjoy reading it and to say I found the story a pointless and unrewarding read is probably an understatement. The book seemed to be nothing more than a series of poorly strung together literary devices... or maybe it was a vehicle for the trundling out of a series of literary devices
MJ Nicholls
A flat-out triumph of structure, style, shifting narrative voices, rhythm and language. A pitch-perfect technical masterpiece. Split into three components—the beginning, the middle and the end—the story moves between four perspectives: daughter, son, father, mother. Each section describes various events around a holiday trip to Norwich and the arrival of Amber, a charismatic drifter who changes her behaviour to accommodate each person.

A very tight, free indirect style* is deployed to bring the t
Jan 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
I don't relish giving a book one star, but The Accidental was the rare book that I found so unreadable that I couldn't even finish it. The writing style was very affected and intentionally obtuse, making the book unpleasant and difficult to read. The characters were whiny and self-involved beyond all reason. There were huge logic gaps (such as why Amber was allowed to hang about the house, uninvited and unknown to all of them-- hello?!) and pithy observations. Ugh. I struggled and struggled with ...more
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dont-like, ditched, usa, 2017
This started off really good.
But it just died on me. I found it got really boring.
Did not finish
Julie Christine
The stranger who arrives in mysterious circumstances and turns a household on its ear may be familiar literary trope, but Ali Smith does it with such panache and vivacity, the familiar becomes fresh and revelatory.

The Accidental shows the rusted and broken bits inside the moral compass of the Smarts, a bourgeois British family of four on summer holiday in a drab northern England town. Eve Smart is mid-list novelist and mother of 17-year-old Magnus and 12-year-old Astrid. Michael Smart, husband
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was phenomenal. Skillfully structured, beautifully written, with a story that kept me flipping pages past my bedtime. The story is told from four different POVs with a stream of consciousness bent and occasional experimental flare, as in the segment narrated in poetry by the serially philandering husband/step-father/English professor, Michael. Twelve-year-old Astrid’s imaginative flights of fancy, pre-teen jargon and maybe hints of ADD were an amusing ride (don’t be alarmed, it’s not all li ...more
The Accidental takes a well-worn premise – in which the appearance of an enigmatic newcomer upsets the balance of a largely dissatisfied upper-middle-class family – and filters it through that inimitable freeform Ali Smith style.

The characters are knowing cliches. Eve is a kind-of-successful author with writer's block. Michael is a professor who's sleeping with, apparently, all his female students. Moody teenage son Magnus is involved in an online bullying scandal that's resulted in a classmate'
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Ali Smith is a writer, born in Inverness, Scotland, to working-class parents. She was raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge. She studied at Aberdeen, and then at Cambridge, for a Ph.D. that was never finished. In a 2004 interview with writing magazine Mslexia, she talked briefly about the difficulty of becoming ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a year and how it for ...more
More about Ali Smith...
“There are things that can't be said, because it's hard to have to know them.” 29 likes
“Oh. To be filled with goodness then shattered by goodness, so beautifully mosaically fragmented by such shocking goodness.” 9 likes
More quotes…