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the Complete Review
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The Accidental Woman

Jonathan Coe

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To purchase The Accidental Woman

Title: The Accidental Woman
Author: Jonathan Coe
Genre: Novel
Written: 1987
Length: 151 pages
Availability: The Accidental Woman - US
The Accidental Woman - UK
The Accidental Woman - Canada
The Accidental Woman - India
La femme de hasard - France
Donna per caso - Italia

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Our Assessment:

B- : well written, but too cold

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
TLS . 15/5/1987 Nigel Lawson

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The complete review's Review:

       Jonathan Coe's first novel, The Accidental Woman is a study of Maria, an aimless, often indifferent woman, more at the mercy of fate than able to direct her life. The first girl from her school to get a place to Oxford, the novels follows her peregrinations at the university and then beyond. It is partially a university novel, but Coe does not take the predictable and well-trod road, choosing a different vantage point (as he also does, more successfully, in A Touch of Love).
       The novel covers some fifteen years, and though stylistically accomplished (Coe is a clever and engaging writer), his characters here did not truly grip us. "Three years later, and it is still raining," he writes, moving the story forward. "I tell a lie, of course, there have been intervening periods of sunshine, but they do not concern us," he allows. It sums up the best and worst of the book. Clever, yes, and well constructed -- but too much dreariness hanging over it. Not enough sunshine.
       Maria is a successful figure, but it is not a success that appeals to us greatly. A mannered piece, it lacks the humour of Coe's later efforts.
       An interesting and fairly short literary piece, it is lukewarmly recommended.

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The Accidental Woman: Reviews: Jonathan Coe: Other books by Jonathan Coe under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Born in 1961, Jonathan Coe attended Cambridge and Warwick universities. He is the author of several novels.

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