The Accidental - Ali Smith

A family of four are renting a house in Norfolk for a holiday. They are quite fragmented, the daughter Astrid is 12 and is going through an awkward stage on the threshold of womanhood. She is obsessed with filming everything with her new camera and won't touch any of the furniture in the house or the cutlery as she doesn't know who has touched it previosuly. Marcus is the 16 year old son who has taken to taking his dinner upstairs to eat and being even more anti social than usual. His mother is really beginning to worry about him. Michael is their step-father the children put up with. He lectures in English and Literary Criticism but has a more personal relationship with some of his students. Eve, their mother and Michael's wife, is an author who has suddendly found her brand of novels in the "Genuine Article Series" hit the big time.

One day out of the blue a woman turns up at the front door saying she is late. She is invited in by Michael who assumes she is something to do with Eve. Eve later assumes she is one of Michael's girls. It turns out none of them do and in the process of her spending her holiday with them, Amber learns their secrets and somehow manages to bring them together as a family, for a time at least.

The novel was split into three main parts (beginning, middle and end) with each character narrating a section including Amber. What I loved about it was that each voice was different and you got the sense that it really was someone different telling you their version of events. I particularly enjoyed one section were Michael was thinking in sonnets and his section was all written in poetry. I really enjoyed this novel and I liked that it took the family back to their "real life" after their time with Amber at the holiday home. I can definitely see why it won the Whitbread Prize and was nominated for both The Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction.