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An Accidental Light Hardcover – February 3, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Kirkus Reviews

“…matter-of-fact, precise prose and edgy characterizations…”

Publishers Weekly

“… a heartbreaking journey into the aftermath of tragedy.”

Curled Up with a Good Book

"Author Elizabeth Diamond beautifully moves between Jack and Lisa’s voices, exposing their layers of grief and loss in a story that seems to literally bleed with revenge and bittersweet hurt. The author digs deep into the interior lives of her two major players, exploring the redemptive power of loss and of love even as time 'slips like sand through the sieve,' bringing back the past."

Library Journal

"This first novel by British poet Diamond combines realistic themes with a suggestion of the paranormal...Diamond's remarkable talent lies in the engaging immediacy of her characters' voices: we find ourselves compelled by the mundane details of people pulling their lives together."

About the Author

Elizabeth Diamond

Elizabeth Diamond lives in Devon, England. An Accidental Light is her first novel, for which she received a British Arts Council grant. She has just finished her second novel.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; First Edition edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590513010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590513019
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,143,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Diamond lives in Devon, England.

After years of raising a family, and working in a variety of part-time jobs, such as a home help, a waitress, a shop assistant, a typist, and a Special Needs teacher, Elizabeth Diamond thought she had given up on her childhood dream of becoming a published author, until in mid-life, a chance entry in a writers' development award won her funding to work on a literary project. She decided to try and write a novel, just 'to see if she could'.

The result was 'An Accidental Light', a tender and affecting novel about the aftermath of a car accident in which a thirteen year old girl is killed on her way home from school, and the affect of the accident on the lives of two families.
It was taken up immediately on completion by a New York agent and sold within days. Since then Elizabeth's second novel 'Underwater', is published with Picador in the UK.

She was once phoned up by the publicity department at Picador and asked why she had chosen to write about the subject matter of An Accidental Light. She had to confess that she didn't really know. Then, after putting the phone down, she remembered an experience she'd had as a schoolgirl of thirteen, when a friend had died in a car accident in the selfsame circumstances as Laura, the girl in the novel. She was amazed that she had never made the connection before!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lins TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Do you Believe in Ghosts?

In "An Accidental Light" a first novel by Elizabeth Diamond, one of the two, first-person protagonists, British policeman Jack Philips, accidentally kills a young girl, Laura Jenkins, and then begins to see her ghost. It is in therapy that Jack begins to fill in the holes of his own past, discovering things about himself that he had suppressed for years.

The other protagonist is Laura's mother, Lisa; she also sees Laura's ghost. In her grief she contacts a medium who brings up memories of her deceased father. Then, over the course of the following year, things happen to Jack and to Lisa that would never have happened had not the deadly accident occurred; they are both set upon a journey. Is Laura's coordinating some of this from "beyond"?

"An Accidental Light" is a simple, relate-able story of grief, guilt and atonement with some compelling Magic Realism thrown in. A question lingers after the book is completed and the story is told...why doesn't Jack tell Lisa what he saw?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tracy L. VINE VOICE on February 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I think the best books are those that grab you on the first page and never let go. AN ACCIDENTAL LIGHT is just such a book.

On a rainy November evening at dusk, policeman Jack Phillips is driving home after work and a pint at the pub, when 13 year-old Laura Jenkins runs out in front of his car from behind a bus. Jack hits her and she dies. There was nothing he could do. It truly was accident. This moment sets off a chain of events that will completely alter not only Jack's life, but the lives of Lisa and Derek, Laura's parents.

The story is told in the voices of Jack and Lisa. Jack tells his story in a journal he's writing for his therapist. Lisa addresses her story to Laura. Each struggling with what has happened. Jack quits his job. Lisa asks her husband to leave. Both need to reconnect with family. Both have "seen" Laura.

While on the surface one might assume this is a ghost story, it is not. Yes, the sightings of Laura play an integral part in the story, but ultimately this is a story about love, grief, sorrow and forgiveness. Most importantly, it is a book about moving on after a tragedy occurs. Author Elizabeth Diamond has done a wonderful job in bringing these characters to life. I honestly got a great sense of what each character was feeling. It always amazes me when an author can make me feel like fictional characters are actually part of my own life and Diamond did that here.

The writing is wonderful. I was riveted to the book and never list interest. Elizabeth Diamond has written a remarkable debut novel with AN ACCIDENTAL LIGHT. I look forward to reading her next novel.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The death of one person can change another person's life. The death of a child can change the lives of that child's parents. In this novel by Elizabeth Diamond, the lives of two families are forever changed when the man from one family accidentally hits and kills the daughter of the other. And while, yes, it is a sad, sad moment, it's also the spark that ignites both couples to finally start living and do what makes them happy instead of remaining stagnant.

The story takes place in England, but the story transcends international borders. It could take place in any "Western" country or U.S. state. In fact, I didn't realize where it actually took place for several chapters when Diamond started using British colloquialisms.

Diamond's writing is very conversational and easy to read. I quickly breezed through the novel during Christmas vacation and was never bored. Her descriptions and character development were wonderful. The only part that felt jarring to me was the novel's first sudden change in point of view. The first few chapters were told from the point of view of Jack, the man who accidentally hit and killed Laura, the little girl, one day while driving home because she ran out from behind a bus and he didn't have time to stop. He tells his story to his psychiatrist and we, the readers, are his psychiatrist. Later, the story's point of view shifts without warning. Suddenly, we're being told the story from the point of view of Lisa, the girl's mother, whom we haven't even met yet. She's telling her story to her deceased daughter, Laura. We, the readers, substitute for Laura. Once you understand whose point of view each particular chapter is, the confusion dissipates.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As it was starting to get dark police officer Jack Philips is driving home when thirteen years old Laura Jenkins runs out of the blue into the road from behind a bus. He has no time to break and kills her. Although the inquest exonerates Jack, he cannot forgive himself as he goes over each second of the tragedy wondering what he could have done different; perhaps turning on his headlights. He remains traumatized as he sees Laura everywhere. He fears for his two daughters and thinks of his mom's suicide when he was a teen. Unable to work Jack goes on medical leave and unable to talk to his wife Samantha his marriage crumbles.

Laura's mother Lisa is as depressed as Jack is and ties her daughter's accidental death to the heart attack that killed her father when she was about Laura's age. Like Jack she sees Laura everywhere. She turns to psychics as she feels her daughter's ghost is trying to reach her. Her spouse Derek ignores his wife's pain. Instead he stalks his daughter's killer. Jack wonders if the unhinged man is considering an eye for an eye while also pondering whether the teen's ghost is real and trying to tell him something.

The key to the psychological ghost story is the aftermath on two families sharing an accidental tragedy. Both families deteriorate following the death of Laura although Sam and Derek are never developed beyond the roles of spouse and parent; on the other hand Jack and Lisa are full blooded grieving parents with similar past histories. Fans will wonder if Laura is actually there and if yes, why as Elizabeth Diamond provides a deep family drama that mixes the paranormal with the psychological.

Harriet Klausner
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