Jack Phillips is a Police Officer. On a day just like any other he joins his friend for a quick pint after work and then heads home to his wife and his two young daughters. It is November, the sky is grey, the light is fading and in a few seconds time his life is going to change forever when a girl steps out of the gloom into the path of his car. He could never have predicted the fall-out from that day, how looking at his situation suddenly starts him on a path back to his childhood and confronting the daemons that are lurking there.
Lisa is at work when the incident occurs. Suddenly her world changes as she realises she knows little about the man she has married and when the chips are down they are unable to support each other. How will she move forward with her life now that the foundations appear to be built on such shifting sand?
This book is one that makes you realise that life is full of small instances that could have a major impact on our future. It is written around the concept of the "What ifs". What if you had taken a different route home, what if you had never called for a policeman on that day, what if you hadn't changed your hours at work?
Some people think our life's are planned out for us as soon as we are born, others believe that you create your own future so whichever way you look at it fate will have a hand in everything that happens to us.
Jack seems like a decent bloke. He is traumatised by the incident but he knows he has to pull himself together as he is the head of the household and has responsibilities. Unfortunately this is easier said than done and eventually he turns to the help of a counsellor to assist him. He starts to write everything that he is feeling down and he starts to come to the realisation that there are many loose ends in his past that he needs to deal with before he can really move on and find some peace. He has hurt many of the people he loves but in trying to build bridges he finds that he is still alienating others.
The character of Jack is well-written. You can imagine him crumbling from a burly 6ft Policeman who wore his uniform with pride to a quiet, depressed man who can't seem to quite get a grip on his world. Having had dealings with depression I felt that the author did an excellent job in portraying the isolation and the frustration that his family were feeling.
Lisa suddenly found herself having to cope with situations alone. Her emotional back-up had disappeared and she realised she was a stronger person than she could have imagined. Looking back over her life she realised she had never really come to terms with her father's death and the need to blame someone for his demise and the need to replace him in her affections had led her down an unsatisfactory route.
Luckily Lisa does have a very solid friend in whom she can confide and who offers her valuable advice as well as introducing her to a Medium who amazes her by knowing many details about her current situation. The meeting soothes her in some ways but leaves niggling doubts about what she should do. Her husband is behaving strangely but surely he is not losing his mind?
I found this book a real page-turner. As a parent there is always a nagging fear about what might happen to our children when they are out of our sight and this book illustrates one of the worst nightmares. As a driver we all hope that we will never be responsible for hitting a pedestrian but there are times when an accident will happen. Following the story through the eyes of the parent and of the driver gave an unusual perspective which I found very readable even though I found the story subject matter upsetting at first.
The author does touch on communication with the spirit world. I tend to keep an open mind on such matters and when I was younger I loved ghost stories but now I find I can easily get irritated by books that stray too far into that realm. In An Accidental Light the author managed a perfect balance; the reader was left wondering whether the characters had really experienced what they thought or whether it had been a figment of their imagination.
Everyone deals with tradegies in their own way and the author only had a small number of characters in this book so she was able to fully explore their reactions and since the characters were all so well-formed their behaviours always seemed fitting. There is nothing more annoying than characters that don't seem to react in a believable or consistent way.
I felt that the plot developments had been well thought out. There were some subtle twists and turns and even when you really think you know exactly where the book is heading it throws up the odd surprise which keeps you reading.
I think the only disappointment I had was in the last couple of pages as it finished a little abruptly and there was something happening with Jack that I wanted to know more about. However since that is probably my only criticism I can't think too badly of the author for leaving me wanting more.
This is certainly a book that I would recommend. It is heart-breaking in parts but the strength of human nature shines through and produces an uplifting feel as the book progresses. This was the debut novel from Elizabeth Diamond and was published in 2008. I have not read any other books by this author but would certainly be keen to read something else as I thought she showed excellent writing skills. The pace of the writing changed frequently depending on the mood and this kept a beautiful flow to the piece which made it a joy to read.
An Accidental Light is the first novel from Elizabeth Diamond and hopefully it won't be her last. I came across it by accident on Amazon through one of their 'other people bought this' recommendations and it is excellent.
The book tells the story of two families who are struck by a terrible tragedy. One night on his way home from work as a police officer Jack Phillips knocks down and kills a young girl Laura Jenkins. Whenever you hear or read about these incidents the focus is always on the victim (the dead person) and their family, but this book explores the fact that there are two sides and that the victim can also be the culprit. This was an accident with no-one at fault, a rainy evening with the light fading, a child stepping out thinking the way is clear and a man unable to stop when she steps out in front of him.
Anyway the story follows the Jenkins family as they struggle with their grief, Laura was an only child and the glue that held the couple's marriage together. The husband becomes fixated on Jack and begins a hate campaign against him. Lisa, his wife wants to move on and slowly begins to rebuild her life, doing things she's never done before, getting a job.
On the other side Jack is overwelmed by the situation. He blames himself and cannot sleep or function normally, having visions of the accident and the aftermath. Obviously no charges are brought against him but it doesn't stop him feeling guilty. He has time off work through anxiety and stress and starts to see a counsellor. However other people, work and family keep telling him to pull himself together and get over it. Eventually he quits his job and his marriage breaks down. Slowly he begins to get on with life by revisiting issues in his past including his fathers abandonment and his mothers suicide which have all led to this point.
Jack and Lisa meet and begin to form a friendship each of them helping the other come to terms with what happened.
I really enjoyed this book, it is very detailed and the author has given the charactors a lot of depth. It was interesting to read a book on an emotive subject which looks at both sides and how a tragedy has reprucussions for all of those involved. It is uplifting despite the subject with the central characters ultimately finding something out about themselves which enables them to build a different life. There is also a lot of sadness too, the death of a child is never easy and as a parent it makes you shudder realising how easy it is for something to happen like this. Definately worth a look.
n Accidental Light, written by Elizabeth Diamond is a book about a life changing event, and the consequences it has on not just one life - but on a number of people.
The book follows Jack, a happily married Police Officer who has a daughter. He cares a lot about his family and his career, until one day through no fault of his own he runs over all kills a young girl. Jack descends into depression, and after a while leaves his job and his marriage breaks up. But the girls father becomes determined to get revenge, and starts to stalk Jack and his daughter, and on the anniversary of his daughters death attempts to run down Jacks daughter.
This isn't usually the type of book I would choose, however I'm actually glad I did as I've enjoyed reading it. The author employs a great use of descriptive detail to help create very three dimensional characters that were believable. The story has a lot of sad undertones, the death of a child, the breakup of two marriages and so forth, but I also enjoyed the fact that despite all the trauma and sadness in the book things do start to get better.
The plot was solid and constant, I like the concept that one accident can devastate two families and have such wide spread effect and produce an emotional invoking response. An Accidental Light has been well written by Elizabeth who has obviously put a lot of thought in to the book.
Overall a very good read, one that's well worth the time and the effort.
(I'm a reviewer on Amazon, and some my reviews are copied from there to dooyoo. Please feel free to check out my Amazon profile under my real name of Mr Andrew M Kerr.)