Review of The Accidental Woman by Jonathan Coe

The Accidental Woman The Accidental Woman by Jonathan Coe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A very short book, so a novella, really, unlike Coe's immense 'What a Carve Up'. Very, very funny, even if the main character, Maria, is dead boring, if in real life. But in this book, Coe has another character, an omnipresent omni-everything narrator, telling us, right in our face, what is happening to Maria, in a very personal and conversational tone, like a friend whispering secrets. Like : 'Maria's state of mind is one of misery, a misery such that I cannot describe and you probably cannot imagine.'

Yes, Maria is a miserable one. We are told she doesn't have feelings, of anger, etc, especially of love. Which Ronny, a school friend since, has plenty of, following her everywhere, and proposing marriage. So Maria getting married to cruel Martin, who abuses her, is a mystery. Even Maria's little son hates her.

In fact all through the book, all the other characters simply hate her, sometimes for nothing at all. For example, her work colleague would make the door slam on her face, on purpose. But she doesn't do anything back, she's that boring. After leaving Martin she leads a boring life. When she finally asks Ronny to marry her, on the day of the wedding Ronny skives off, probably realising, at last what he's be in for - eternal boredom.

There is a danger in creating your main character as one who has no feelings, dead boring, has no friends at all, whom anyone who meets her once immediately does not take to. The way Coe lifts this boredom for us readers is by his very funny style of writing.

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