Length: 305 pages
About: Norfolk holiday upset by stranger
Style: 3rd person
Where: Norfolk, England
Arresting and wonderful, 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.
A novel about the ways that seemingly chance encounters irrevocably transform our understanding of ourselves, The Accidental explores the nature of truth, the role of fate and the power of
She had ignored him over supper.
She had ignored him the whole time.
She had sat opposite him as if he wasn't there. He may as well himself have been an empty chair opposite her, a space, an innocent nothing. But he had made her car start. He had made an excellent
supper. He would make warmed pears in hot chocolate sauce and then he would watch her cut with the edge of her spoon, scoop it up, put her spoon in her mouth and chew and swallow something that
tasted very good indeed, and scoop more food into her spoon and open her mouth for the spoon again.
Any minute now she would step back through the door into the room.
Representing a child's voice in a novel is a tricky thing. One has to negotiate the twin perils of overwriting and underwriting the part......Ali Smith pulls it off with terrific verve in this
novel, which is a skilful exercise in free indirect style: the characters are not first-person narrators, but lovingly distinguished third-person points of view.
For full review click here
The Guardian, Steven Poole, 11th June 2005
Not so good:
Worse, Ms. Smith's efforts to play up Amber's mythic qualities and to underscore the self-conscious, postmodern aspects of this story feel contrived and clumsy in the extreme.
For full review click here
The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani, 27th January 2006
About the author
She was born in 1962 to working-class parents, raised in a council house in Inverness, Scotland and now lives in Cambridge. She studied at the University of Aberdeen and then at Newnham College,
Cambridge, for a PhD that she never finished. She worked as a lecturer at University of Strathclyde until she fell ill with CFS/ME. Following this she became a full-time writer and now writes for The
Guardian, The Scotsman, and the Times Literary Supplement. Openly gay, she lives in Cambridge with her partner filmmaker Sarah Wood.
In 2007 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
In 2009, she donated the short story Last (previously published in the Manchester Review Online) to Oxfam's 'Ox-Tales' project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Her story was
published in the 'Fire' collection.