Friday, 4 July 2008

The Accidental - Ali Smith

One summer day in Norfolk, Amber appears at the front door of the Smart family, and changes everything. The book describes the effect that this strange woman has on each of them, through their eyes, so that at every chapter the perspective shifts from one member of the family to the other.
There's 12 year-old Astrid obsessed with videoing everything. Teenager Magnus, who is tormented by a school tragedy he feels responsible for. There's lecturer Michael and his long list of sexual conquests, and then there's writer Eve, who is trying to write another bestseller, but is afflicted by the writer's block.

Ok, I'll be honest. I didn't get this book at all. Maybe I'm too used to reading children's literature now, and I can't appreciate this kind of writing, or maybe it just wasn't my thing. The fact is that I couldn't even finish it.
It started well, I enjoyed the first quarter of it, I found it funny and I was really interested to know what was going to happen. Then nothing happened. I was half way through it when I realised I didn't care about any of the characters. Then when I only had about 20 pages to go, I quit. When you start skipping sentences, then paragraphs, then pages, you know it's time to put an end to it. I'm really sad to say this because I wanted to like it and I thought I loved the style at first. Unofortunately it got weirder and weirder till it lost me completely.
The fact is that it felt more like a psychological study on middle class people than a real story. I appreciated the experimental writing and its boldness, but I got to a point where it was too much for me.

I've read other bloggers' review and it seems to have been received pretty well by other people, so if you haven't read it, don't be put off completely. Read the other reviews and then maybe give it a try. It's not awful. It just wasn't for me.

other blog reviews:
Rhinoa's ramblings
Pink Blue whale
Who's that bookworm?
What I have been reading

Let me know if you've reviewed it too and I'll add your link to the list.


Ana S. said...

Sorry to hear this one disappointed you. It's definitely not a story in the traditional sense, and those kinds of books can also go horribly wrong for me, but this one worked.

valentina said...

I'm still going to give Ali Smith a chance, because the books had a great start and I actually thought I was going to love it. Hopefully her next one will be better for me!

Library Mice said...

I badly struggled through this one but managed to finish it. I felt she was trying too hard to make the story "unusual".

valentina said...

yes, that's what I felt too. But at least you managed to finish it, I just had to give up!

Cathrine said...

:) ok shhh here comes a secret from the world's biggest Ali Smith fan ;-) ... yes that is moi. I didn't really get this one either and I LOVE all her other books / stories (well maybe not LIKE). Have you read HOtel World? It is wonderful ! And so are her 3 collections of short stories - she has a new one out this upcoming winter. And her Girl meets Boy is so good :)! Try Hotel World if you haven't :-) !

valentina said...

that's great Cathrine, I was actually hoping for someone to tell me what you said, cause I don't want to give up on her, yet. I'll have a look at Hotel world and probably at Girl meets boy cause I wanted to anyway. Thanks for the recommendations!