If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting.
Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home - or has she?
Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed. What happens when she decides to go looking for it?
Does she really deserve to be whole again?
"Please allow me to introduce you to our heroine. Unfortunately I am forced to admit that she is not at her best at the moment. An honest raconteur would tell you that, in fact, she is a complete mess."
Oh dear!! The protagonist is as much of a mess as her ramshackle house! And the next few years of her family's life! But, that isn't going to stop her from telling us a great story about what happened to her and her family in that time and how in the face of adversity, they pulled through - with a little bit of help from some chocolate fridge cake and Chaos and Logic Crispy Cakes!
This story is inspired by real life events. It is basically the tale of a family living in a ramshackle country house that suffers huge storm damage, making it an unsafe structure to live in which leaves them facing a long, painful period of negotiation with Insurance Brokers, builders and the numerous people involved in 'accidental damage' claims. It is a living nightmare.
But this is not a story of woe, it is not a story of blame, irritation or cynicism. Incredibly, it is a very upbeat and positive novel with a narrative voice that will make you chuckle, giggle and admire the resources and resilience of the family.
Each chapter is given a heading with a definition and I really enjoyed this technique. Not only does it infer what might be coming plot wise, it makes the reader think about the words we use in certain situations and how definitions can be used to give meaning or explain things but also confuse or complicate situations. Things that sound like they should be black and white and straight forward but often aren't. And it is also a very entertaining and imaginative way of pulling the reader in.
"Accidental Damage - Definition: damage to an individual's home or its contents that transpires inadvertently during the course of everyday life."
I really enjoyed reading about the family and the relationship between the parents and their children, as well as between the siblings, as events began to affect them all. Alice clearly loves her family dearly and is exceptionally proud of each of them but I did enjoy her wry remarks, humorous observations and gentle comments about the children who she refers to as Small, Chaos and Logic. Anyone who shares a space with teenagers will appreciate these sections!
There is much wisdom sprinkled between these pages, nuggets of truth that we will all recognise and be glad to reread or be reminded of. It's interesting how Alice has used the story of her ramshackle cottage to explore more the emotional issues in us ramshackle people. For me, I thought a lot of this book was about thinking about your outlook and your approach to life. It's impossible not to admire or want to aspire to Alice's infectious lightheartedness and upbeat attitude to life.
"Eventually we must face those things that scare us. We need to confront them head on, because only then can we stand a chance of defeating them so that they can't dominate the rest of our lives."
To emphasise this idea, alongside this tale of the physical struggle of a family and a house, runs the more internal struggle of the protagonist. Alice was a painter. Alice has locked this side of herself away and lost sight of how it defines, shapes her and makes her whole. Is it time for her to find her paints- her'friends' - again? And what will happen when she does? I thought this was an interesting aspect of the book and gave a bit more depth to the novel.
I think the message I took most notice of was that it is really important to look on the bright side of life if you can.
"We should consider that the responsibilities of adulthood can frequently make us neglect the true meaning of life as we become swept up in the pursuit of ephemeral goals forgetting to enjoy every moment for what it is."
This book will be a must read for anyone who has had building work done or lived in a property that has suffered serious damage. It is informal, personal and a very easy read. It has the feel of a blog post, radio piece or a magazine column and it's fluency, lightheartedness and personable style makes it very easy to keep reading. I was glad I didn't have to wait for instalments as it was a pleasure to carry on at my own pace.
This would also make a great audio book but in the mean time I look forward to seeing what Alice May does next and would be happy to hear more about her Beloved Husband, Logic, Chaos and Small!
May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you and those you love near you Irish Blessing
Accidental Damage is published on 10th April 2017. Click on the link below to buy a copy.
amazon link to Accidental Damage Alice May
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At forty-five-years old, I am a multi-tasking mother with four not-so-small children and I am fortunate enough to be married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet. We live in, what used to be, a ramshackle old cottage in the country.
My conservatory is always festooned with wet washing and my kitchen full of cake.
Following several years exhibiting as a mixed media artist, I decided that 2016 was the year I would start writing. Inspired by true-life events and fuelled by some really frantic painting sessions ‘Accidental Damage’ wouldn’t leave me alone until it was written. I really hope you enjoy it.
For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or visit my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk