Everyone falls in love with Amber in a different way. But who is she, and what does she want? Essentially this is a modern-day reworking of Pasolini's 1968 film Theorem, in which unexpected dinner guest Terence Stamp charismatically destroys a bourgeois family. Here, too, the lives of Eve, Michael, Magnus and Astrid will never be the same after Amber's visitation … The Accidental has an infectious sense of fun and invention. The story goes through some surprising reversals and arrives at a satisfying conclusion, which is also a beginning.
It's difficult for any writer to pull off rotating viewpoints, but Smith does it perfectly, without a hint of clumsiness or tentativeness...It's especially hard considering how disparate the characters are. Astrid can't wait to grow up; Michael can't handle being an adult. Magnus is as consumed with his guilt as Eve is with her self-doubt. Smith captures the speech and thoughts of each character with a real, compassionate kind of virtuosity … It pays to be suspicious of writers who tie things up too neatly, who end novels a little too perfectly. But Smith doesn't have this problem – the last sentence of the book manages to be enlightening, confusing and almost destructive in its simple power.
Ms. Smith is a wonderful ventriloquist, adept at throwing her voice into an astonishing array of characters. And while the chapters about the Smart family are written in the third person, she captures their thoughts, their dream lives, their sense of their place in the world with perfect and unwavering pitch … Curiously enough, Amber, the one character written in the first person, is also the one character who never comes alive on the page. No doubt she is intended to be more of a symbol than an individual — a sort of walking human catalyst, meant to stir up other people's lives — but she does not even seem credible in this limited role.