I thoroughly enjoyed Nuala Ellwood’s debut novel, My Sister’s Bones, and so I just had to request Day of the Accident when I saw it on Netgalley.
Sixty seconds after she wakes from a coma, Maggie’s world is torn apart.
The police tell her that her daughter Elspeth is dead. That she drowned when the car Maggie had been driving plunged into the river. Maggie remembers nothing.
When Maggie begs to see her husband Sean, the police tell her that he has disappeared. He was last seen on the day of her daughter’s funeral.
What really happened that day at the river?
Where is Maggie’s husband?
And why can’t she shake the suspicion that somewhere, somehow, her daughter is still alive?
Maggie was a bit of a strange character from my perspective. I felt a tremendous amount of sympathy for her as she wakes up at the start of the novel from a ten-week long coma to the heart-breaking news that her daughter died in the same accident that put her into that coma, and that her husband has left, taking all of their money with him and leaving no way of contacting him. But as the story continued and I found out more about her, I found that I didn’t really like her. She was a stay at home mum, but too focused on her own goals and ambitions to pay much attention to her daughter, and whilst she regrets her behaviour now (there’s an idiom about hindsight) she came across as being quite selfish.
If I didn’t take to Maggie’s character, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the novel at all, and I read this in a single day, wanting to know the what and the why behind Maggie’s conviction that her daughter, Elspeth, was still alive. This was one of those novels where I had all sorts of theories in mind as to what the grand reveal would contain, but I was a long way from guessing what actually happened. The revelations come late in the novel, and whilst the reader gains a little bit of insight from Maggie’s past and the slowly returning memories from the day of the accident, the reader is kept largely in the dark as to what is going on until the end of the novel. I did perhaps find that ending required a little suspension of disbelief, but again, I don’t have a problem with this, particularly when I’ve raced through it as I did here to find out what happened.
I’ve deliberately avoided talking about the plot in any detail as I think that it would be too easy to spoil the novel for other readers – this is a case where the blurb tells you everything you need to know before diving in, except perhaps that it will keep you glued to your seat as you race through it to find out if Maggie is delusional and / or desperate, or if her view that Elspeth is alive might just be correct.
Day of the Accident will be published on 21 February by Penguin. Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced copy via Netgalley.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐