Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy Used
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: The cover is like new! May have a remainder mark. Fast Shipping - Safe and Secure from Massachusetts!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

By Accident: A Novel Paperback – September 1, 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$6.37 $0.01

All the Winters After by Seré Prince Halverson
"All the Winters After" by Seré Prince Halverson
Set in the majestic, dangerous beauty of Alaska, All the Winters After is the story of two bound souls trying to free themselves, searching for family and forgiveness. Learn more | See author page

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kelly's latest, a delicate novel of grief and recovery, takes readers deep into the mind of a grieving mother. After Laura's son, Whit, dies, she's emotionally paralyzed. Her husband, Russ, is busy with his construction business, and their teen daughter, Ebie, grows disconnected. But when a jovial young arborist named Elliot moves in next door and befriends Laura and Ebie, Laura slowly warms back up to the world, and Elliot, whose fun-loving nature can verge on reckless, takes to Ebie with a Peter Pan–like verve. As it becomes clear that Russ is keeping important secrets from his family, Laura and Elliot's emotional intimacy creepily escalates (is he a substitute for her son? an object of lust?), and Kelly drops in cinematic flashbacks that ratchet up the tension. Kelly's characters—all excellent, except cipherlike Russ—imbue this novel with an understated power. Kelly doesn't go in for the cheap movie-of-the-week melodrama often found in grieving mother fiction, and the reader is much better off for it. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Susan Kelly has a quiet dignity and honesty. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Kelly writes like there’s an angel hiding in her pen. . . . a winner all the way. (Raleigh News & Observer)

Kelly hones in on both the big and small things that draw women together. (Orlando Sentinel)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; Reprint edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605982555
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605982557
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,098,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Stafford Kelly was raised in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. She attended St. Catherine's School, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and taught Creative Writing for the North Carolina Writers Network, at UNC-Greensboro, Salem College, and the summer program at Woodberry Forest School. Susan's novel HOW CLOSE WE COME won the Carolina Novel Award in 1997 and was reissued nationally in 1998 by Warner Books. German and Russian rights were sold and the book was an Alternate Selection in the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her second novel, EVEN NOW, followed in July of 2001. THE LAST OF SOMETHING was published by Pegasus Books in 2006, followed by NOW YOU KNOW in 2008. Her newest and 5th novel, BY ACCIDENT is forthcoming from Pegasus Books in April 2010. Susan is a member of the North Carolina Writers Conference. She and her husband Sterling live in Greensboro, NC and have three children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Susan Kelly has done it again. The author creates sympathetic characters in situations that are so real that we as readers can't help but relate. Laura is a wife and mother who loses her son Whit just after he graduates from highschool in a car accident on the way to the beach. I'm not spoiling anything, you learn this right away. It's every mother's worst nightmare. Laura has to find a way to keep going for her younger daughter and to connect somehow with the people in her life, even her husband. All she really wants to do is curl up and ignore the world. When a young man moves in next door, Laura starts to become more engaged in life again. Their relationship morphs as does the relationship she has with her husband and her long-time best friend. I wanted to keep reading about Laura and her Greensboro, NC neighborhood even after the last page.
Comment 11 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Laura Lucas is grieving the death of her son, who should have been college bound in the fall. She grieves as an island - isolated and disconnected from everything and everyone she used to love. Then she and her daughter, Ebie, meet the young man next door and Laura begins to show signs of life again. By Accident examines relationships between men and women, husbands and wives, parents and children.

By Accident is beautifully written. I could feel the heaviness of Laura's grief and her frustration with her husband as he tried to force her out of it. I understood her anger at the construction happening in her neighborhood. The changes are happening too quickly and she is unable to hold on to what once was and what should have been.

Relationships are at the heart of the story. Laura and her husband go in different directions after their son's death. Russ and his business partner go in different directions as well, in part causing Laura to lose her best friend of many years. New relationships develop when Elliot moves in next door. Lines are drawn in the sand, crossed, and redrawn as the characters try to find their place in a world that keeps shifting under their feet and throwing them off balance.

I loved the beginning of the book and felt that it ended exactly how it should have. There were a few things in the latter half that bothered me but it was only because I didn't want the characters to make those choices, even though I saw how they got there and how those choices led to the ending. I think the chapters in Ebie's voice were a wonderful break from Laura's heavy grief and gave a different perspective to the story.
1 Comment 6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Laura Whit will lose her son at a young age, a loss that threatens to destroy her life moment by moment. She's almost beyond grief when the novel opens, having no feelings and running through the random thoughts that invade her mind all to frequently during a normal day! She's grieving and her sorrow is depicted without melodrama but no less poignantly for the tragedy this kind of grieving truly is!

Her husband, Russ, is burying his grief in work and her 10 year-old daughter is combining her grief with normal pre-teen angst, a sense of dislike of everything and everybody. So it's hardly surprising when Laura falls into the beginning of a relationship with a tree surgeon. But is he a lover or is she a mother to him, a replacement for her son? And what does it mean how quickly her daughter takes to him like a duck to water? Is sex solace for indescribable pain - does it make one feel alive through the deadness of grief? What does grief do to a couple? And how will another loss change the equation for Laura?

Grief can crush one's being and the effort to live beyond loss is for a time crippling and absolutely devastating. But the author, Susan Kelly, knows exactly where and when to insert the humor and gutsy side of life so vital for healing and recovery, recovery to continue living with meaningfully real relationships, not substitutes, that celebrate the life mourned and lost.

By Accident is a very powerful book about a very cruel, very devastating reality; it is all the more richer for the gracious point of view Susan Kelly presents in Laura Whit and those part of this forever changed world!

A poignant, precious story, Ms. Kelly!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on May 27, 2010
Comment 5 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I thought By Accident was a lovely telling of a tragic situation, with such honesty and detail I felt the characters emotions myself. I thought it was realistic, honest, emotional and well written. I loved the ending, and the intermittent chapters told from a different point of view than the main character's first person point of view. I will look for other books by this author to read based on my experience with this book.
Comment 3 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Initially the main character is a little hard to get into to - Laura is completely devastated and practically ceases to exist when her teenage son, Whit dies. She grows distant from her friends, her husband, her daughter, her life. It's only when a young man moves in next door and engages her in conversation does she begin to break free from her grief. Then we watch as she embarks upon a strange relationship with this young man - is she clinging to him because he reminds her of her dead son or because he awakens something in her that's been silent for a long time?

Most of the book is told from Laura's point of view but a few chapters are told from her daughter, Ebie's point of view. I found this distracting and because it seemed to ill-placed and a bit jolting. I like this concept in books but it needs to be a bit more even, this book is about 80% from Laura's point of view and then 20% from Ebie's. Just didn't seem to fit.

Overall a good read once past the first few chapters - those are hard as the main character is drowning in her grief and the weight of this is very heavy in the book. I think it's an accurate portrayal of what it is probably like to lose a child but it's hard to keep reading. That being said it's definitely worth it to continue on as the book picks up the pace and the story begins to unfold.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: freddy krueger masks