The Accidental: Salty


The Accidental doesn’t feature Vivian Leigh. Or Scarlett O’Hara. But it nevertheless reminded me of selfishness, of women who don’t know what they want until they can’t have it, and of the impact of single interactions.

The novel switches narrative point of view in each chapter, rotating through the cast of five family members in each of the three parts. Each point of view fully realizes its protagonist, but none perhaps as fully as in the chapters narrated by the son, Magnus. The family members are all sad, until touched by the singular arrival of Amber, who compels each of them to reconsider their lives so far, and to ask themselves what they really want out of life. That the answers are not necessarily original (life!) does not make them less compelling. Deciding to change and then actually changing… well, such bravery does not often go recognized the way it might.

I can’t say I understood Amber’s point of view (is she meant to be an angel? possibly?), but I don’t suppose that matters much. We might more be meant to see her as any catalyst that arrives in our own lives and asks us to imagine both how our life could be different, and how (much)/whether we want to change.


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Filed under 100 Books of 2011, Book I'll Forget I Read, Fiction, Prize Winner

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