The Accidental

  • by Ali Smith
  • Narrated by Heather O'Neill, Stina Nielsen, Jeff Woodman, Simon Prebble, Ruth Moore
  • 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Barefoot, thirtysomething Amber shows up at the door of a Norfolk cottage that the Smarts are renting for the summer. Amber doesn't know them, but she talks her way in, telling lies, and stays for dinner. Eve, an author, thinks Amber is a student her husband is sleeping with. Michael, an English professor, knows only that her car broke down. Daughter Astrid, age 12, thinks she's her mother's friend. Son Magnus, 17, thinks she's an angel. Gradually, Amber insinuates herself into the family. Dazzled by her seeming exoticism, the Smarts begin to examine the accidents of their lives under the searing lens of Amber's perceptions. When Eve finally banishes her from the cottage, Amber disappears from their sight, but not, as they find when they return home to London, from their profoundly altered lives.
Fearlessly intelligent, disarmingly playful, The Accidental is a Joycean tour-de-force of literary improvisation that explores the nature of truth, the role of chance, and the transformative power of storytelling.


What the Critics Say

2005 Man Booker Finalist, Fiction
"Spectacular....Allusive, ambitious and formally acrobatic....Original, restless, formally and morally challenging." (The Times Literary Supplement)
"An outstanding novel....Exuberantly inventive....Beautifully formed and astringently intelligent." (The Sunday Times [London])
"Her simple, disquieting story lifts into brilliance." (Publishers Weekly)
"Acrobatic prose that seem in a perpetual state of acceleration....Mesmerizing." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I do not recommend

I do not recommend the audiobook "The Accidental." I did not think it was engaging. It is written in a stream of consciousness style that I found boring. It might be a realistic portrayal of the random thoughts that people have, but I often found these thoughts uninteresting. I bought this book because I liked the plot summary and the critical reviews. After I was a couple of hours into it, I went back to re-read the reviews, and this time I clicked on the customer reviews and I saw that other listeners had reactions similar to mine.

However, professional reviewers praised it highly, which leads me to believe that I might be missing something, which is entirely possible. Maybe the characters' thoughts are not really random, but cleverly presented and tied together nicely. I stuck with it to the end to see if it would have a "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" style of ending, that almost makes it worthwhile, but it did not.
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- Isabelle

Excellent writing, thought provoking

This book was excellently written and narrated. I was amazed at the author's ability to write in the first person for 5 different characters, a mix of male and female, and have each character be distinct in "voice" and vocabulary. All characters were believable and well-wrought. Do not buy this book if you like to skim the surface or are uncomfortable with the unconscious energies that are there under the surface in all of us. If you want something sentimental or feel good on a superficial level, skip this. But if you want a book with great character development, a book that is thought-provoking and builds suspense through engagement with the characters inner lives, you will enjoy this book. Thank you audible for putting on something that is contemporary, unabridged and has got some substance!
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- L

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-07-2006
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books