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The Accidental by Ali Smith

The character at the center of The Accidental is called Amber, although she may not be a character at all. A family is taking a holiday in Norfolk when she arrives on their doorstep. Michael is an adulterous English lecturer, and he assumes Amber is his wife's friend. Eve, his wife, assumes she's one of Michael's students. The two children, Astrid, who is 12, and Magnus, who is 17, are just happy for the company. Each member of the family tells their story about their interactions with Amber, who befriends Astrid, seduces Magnus and saves him from suicide, bewitches Michael, and understands Eve's aloofness from the rest of them. Amber, conceived in a movie theatre, never comes into focus for any of them, perhaps only being some sort of spirit that visits them all, and changing their lives in the process. Ali Smith's novel has received high praise with the Sunday Times saying, "Smith has written a proper novel with a beginning, a middle and an end, but turned it into an exuberantly inventive series of variations. At her beginning, each character is facing some kind of dead end. By the end, everything, including the story of the stranger on the doorstep, is ready to begin again. And in the middle is a fable as beautifully formed and as astringently intelligent as her barefoot delinquent angel."
Buy The Accidental by Ali Smith
Winner of the Whitbread Novel of the Year award
 

London Times review
by Lucy Hughes-Hallett

The Scotsman review
by David Robinson

Scotland on Sunday review
by Andrew Crumey

 

San Francisco Chronicle
review by Michael Schaub

Village Voice review
by Jessica Winter

Christian Science Monitor
review by Yvonne Zipp

The Telegraph review
by Alex Clark

Ali Smith
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