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The Accidental Woman [Paperback]

Jonathan Coe
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 6 1995
This satirical novel tells the story of Maria, a thoroughly inept woman. She seems to be blessed with good fortune, but has no sense of direction and remains unmoved by people and events. Her marriage is a disaster, her parent's house burns down and when she finally seeks love, she is rejected.

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Review

Very funny Spectator Delightfully quirky Financial Times Slyly parodies the cliches of most first novels Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jonathan Coe has written ten novels: The Accidental Woman, A Touch of Love, The Dwarves of Death, What a Carve Up!, The House of Sleep,The Rotters' Club, The Closed Circle, The Rain Before It Falls, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim and Expo 58. His biography of the novelist B.S. Johnson, Like a Fiery Elephant, won the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize for best non-fiction book of the year. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Daunting July 9 2014
By Anakina
Format:Paperback
It was the first time I read a work by Coe. I immediately liked the laid back style, his humour and especially the way in which he tells the story, addressing the reader in the third person and bringing them to see exactly the story from his own point of view. The latter looks a bit detached and ironic and leads the reader to have the same approach.
The problem of this book, however, is another. I am absolutely certain that Coe had so much fun in writing it. You can see from what he writes. But does this implies that those who read it are just as able to have fun? I would say no.
The story is a bit impalpable. The title `The accidental woman' could easily be `An ordinary looser' just because this is what the book is about. It tells the story of an ordinary woman, absolutely mediocre and banal, who is carried away by the events without having any strength to give a minimal footprint to her life. In short it's about persons of whom the world is full and I personally like at all, because they are obviously lacking any imagination, dreams and above all lazy, they are unable to make the slightest move to use their lives with dignity. People who survive instead of living. Was it really necessary to write a story about one of them?
While reading I hoped that in some way sooner or later the protagonist would redeem. At the end of the penultimate chapter there was also a positive twist (although always a random one), but it died there, it was without consequences, and the last chapter reaches the highest level of depression of the entire work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and moving Aug. 25 2001
By A.J. Joyce - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A slight but charming novel of ideas, wise and tender, by turns unbearably sad, enviably clever and roar out loud funny, 'The Accidental Woman' is a series of vignettes from the almost tragic life of Maria, an intelligent and lovely young woman who has never been sure what she wanted and to whom as a consequence things just happen at random. This being the case, it isn't as exquisitely structured as his later work. The auctorial voice is playful, if compassionate, and scenes range from savagely farcical to gently satirical to a sort of heightened realism. Coe fans will enjoy it as long as you aren't expecting What A Carve Up or House of Sleep; anyone who hasn't read him should start with them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. Coe has written much better. Nov. 5 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After reading the excellent "House of Sleep" and "What a Carve Up", this came as a big disappointment, although with a few mitigating good features. The basic problem of this book is that its central characters are uninteresting and the plot (such as it is) unabsorbing. The "short stories within a book" at its core are an interesting idea but somehow never quite work properly. At some points it threatens to really take off, with some good secondary characters and scenes (particularly between academics and lawyers)and there are some memorable flashes of humour, but overall it is very unsatisying
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull! Aug. 12 2003
By ca-bookshelf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This novel reads like a bad 10th grade composition! The awkward writing, a plot made up of unrelated circumstances, and a unsympathetic central character combine to make a very boring reading experience.
2.0 out of 5 stars Daunting Oct. 31 2013
By Anakina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
It was the first time I read a work by Coe. I immediately liked the laid back style, his humour and especially the way in which he tells the story, addressing the reader in the third person and bringing them to see exactly the story from his own point of view. The latter looks a bit detached and ironic and leads the reader to have the same approach.
The problem of this book, however, is another. I am absolutely certain that Coe had so much fun in writing it. You can see from what he writes. But does this implies that those who read it are just as able to have fun? I would say no.
The story is a bit impalpable. The title `The accidental woman' could easily be `An ordinary looser' just because this is what the book is about. It tells the story of an ordinary woman, absolutely mediocre and banal, who is carried away by the events without having any strength to give a minimal footprint to her life. In short it's about persons of whom the world is full and I personally like at all, because they are obviously lacking any imagination, dreams and above all lazy, they are unable to make the slightest move to use their lives with dignity. People who survive instead of living. Was it really necessary to write a story about one of them?
While reading I hoped that in some way sooner or later the protagonist would redeem. At the end of the penultimate chapter there was also a positive twist (although always a random one), but it died there, it was without consequences, and the last chapter reaches the highest level of depression of the entire work.
It is in my opinion a daunting story, both for those who can see themselves in such a person, confirming their theory that they cannot do anything to improve their lives, but also for those who struggle every day to avoid falling into that apathy and build with a hard work a full and interesting life.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
5.0 out of 5 stars Odd but good. July 27 2014
By Pam Balog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
He cannot write a bad book. Love his odd way of looking at life.
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