Published: 10th April 2014
Started reading: July 3
Finished reading: July 7
Sue Jackson has seemingly the ideal family, but her life is thrown into panic and confusion when her daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus, causing her to face a very dark and frightening reality.
What caused Charlotte to try and take her own life? Sue retraces her daughter’s steps and delves deep into her private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.
And forever lurking in the shadows are the horrifying experiences of Sue’s past, which threaten to resurface after 20 years, forming a disturbing link to Charlotte’s mysterious plight.
I have hoped to read C.L. Taylor’s books for a long time, so finally getting around to reading The Accident felt like I was fulfilling a personal goal! And wow, what a quick read this was! It is extremely fast paced, and there was never a moment in the book which felt slow or drawn out, so I was able to breeze through it.
The most impressive thing for me about the fast-paced nature of the book was the amount of detail that was still there. Each chapter is very rich in detail and I felt able to visualise what was happening in the story, but it was also sharp and concise.
My only criticism of this is that some of the characters could have been explored in more detail and we could have gotten to know or understand them a little more, but overall the pace made the reading experience very positive!
So how about the story? Well, it is often dark and occasionally complex, and it takes a number of surprising turns, some of which are admittedly not very believable. The domestic abuse story line is written very knowingly and very well, and some of it was uncomfortable to read. The other main theme is Sue’s anxiety, and that also feels very real.
The diary entries in the first half of the book grow darker and darker, and they are written expertly. However, I never got the sense that they were diary entries; it felt like standard prose written in italics and there was very little of the individuality that comes with a diary entry.
The tension builds as the story develops and we learn more about Sue’s past and just how unaware she is of what is has been going on in her daughter’s life. There are some excellent red herrings; just as you think you might know what is going to happen next, you are proved wrong.
Sue is an interesting narrator, and there is a fascinating contrast between the person we get to know in the present, and in her diary entries from 20 years before. Despite the fact she is an unreliable narrator and most definitely has her flaws, I found it very hard not to sympathise with her.
Indeed, one of the things that disappointed me most was her interactions with Charlotte’s friends, and that she felt the need to lie so often. I thought the dialogue could have been better and that the teenagers in the book were a little bit cliche. They did not all feel like fully rounded characters.
I liked the way the story unravelled towards the end, culminating in a dramatic and thought-provoking scene, although strangely I never felt like I was on the edge of my seat.
So overall, a very solid read with great representation of challenging issues. I love the unpredictability and the pace of the book, but the dialogue and some of the characterisation might have been better.
The Accident contains depictions of domestic violence/abuse, anxiety, rape, and sexual content. If any of these things are likely to cause a negative reaction, then I would recommend that you skip this book.
A strong and accomplished book, with terrific variety and a plot that moves in unexpected directions. Yet there are certain aspects which I found a little disappointing, so I shall give The Accident a rating of 3.5 stars.