The Accident by Fiona Lowe

Reviewed by Rod McLary

The Accident begins with a car crash – and the effects of which reverberate through the subsequent events in the novel.  Jamie McMaster – fiancé to Hannah Simmons – is killed while driving on an unsurfaced country road in a red Porsche.  When the initial shock of his death fades a little, two questions remain:  what was he doing on the country road, and why was he driving a Porsche?

The epigraph to this novel is a quote from Sophocles: Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all.  And that is exactly what happens through the course of the narrative – the secrets and obfuscations within the hearts of the key protagonists are gradually revealed often grudgingly and with unexpected and unwanted consequences.

While the key thread to the narrative is the death of Jamie and the impact of this on Hannah and his family and friends – and more significantly the gradual uncovering of his duplicity in living two lives separate from each other – there are other equally significant threads.  One is the human desire to have children and whether it is equally shared by both parties to a relationship.  Jamie’s best friends Freya and Ryan have a sound loving relationship where both are fulfilled by their connection with each other and their work.  But Jamie’s death throws to them the question of parenthood – Ryan wants to have a child whereas Freya panics at even the thought of motherhood.  This question allows for an exploration of how two committed partners work towards a resolution which compromises the values of neither.

Related to this issue is Hannah’s desire to have Jamie’s baby via harvesting his sperm followed by IVF treatment.  As strong as Hannah’s wish is to bear Jamie’s baby, it is almost overshadowed by the insistence of Jamie’s parents for her to have his child.  But what of Jamie’s wishes?  He cannot be asked but does anyone really know what he may have wanted?  The short answer is ‘no’ but there are those who claim to know and refuse to hear anything to the contrary.

But beneath these issues thrums the individual experience of grief – and each in their own way, Hannah, Jamie’s parents and Freya and Ryan struggle to deal with their grief and maintain their equilibrium through the personal impact Jamie’s death has had on their lives and futures.

Fiona Lowe has crafted a multi-dimensional novel – on one level it is perhaps an exploration of the psychology of grief; but on another level, it raises critical ethical and moral issues about the desire to have children, the ownership of donor sperm, and the often-overlooked rights of the child.  There is much to consider and reflect on in this sensitively written novel about family and family relationships.

Fiona Lowe has been a midwife, a sexual health counsellor and a family support worker – all helpful in authoring novels such as The Accident.  Her books address the difficult choices and the impact of those choices on families and their relationships.

The Accident


by Fiona Lowe

Harper Collins

ISBN 978 186724 699 2

$32.99; 462pp

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