The Day of the Accident by Nuala Ellwood – extract

The Day of the Accident is the second book from Nuala Ellwood. It was published by Penguin on 21 February 2019.

Penguin have kindly allowed me to share an extract from the book.


Lewes Crown Court August 2017

 Now that I’m finally here I realize that what I feel, more than anything, is a sense of unburdening. I always knew deep down inside me that it would have to come out in the end; that someone would have to pay.

The two officers flanking me stare straight ahead, though my eyes are drawn to the ceiling. Its honey- comb design seems to shift and bend as we walk, like the ripples on the surface of a river. Somewhere up there they will be taking their seats, the strangers with whom my fate now rests. They will be issuing polite greetings, shuffling papers, reading notes. All in a day’s work for them, this case, an open and shut one according to my lawyer, though not to me; not to me. Elspeth is with me as we come to a halt by an ornate wooden door. I can feel her presence like a second skin as the first officer steps forward to open it, then with a tilt of the head ushers his colleague and myself through.

The officers lead me to my spot and though my lawyer has prepared me for this moment, rehearsed it until I’m pitch-perfect, it is still a shock to be in this room. I look up to a sea of black-robed figures all on their feet and I’m reminded of Elspeth’s charcoal drawing of the crows that used to litter the meadow at Larkfields. When she’d finished it we hung it on the wall in the kitchen so everyone could admire it. Yet, though Elspeth had been very proud of the drawing, I had always found it chilling, as though it were alluding to something much darker, something rotten that lay hidden at the heart of our family. And now, in this moment, when my mind should be focused on the proceedings at hand, all I can think of is the collective noun for a group of crows.

A murder.

I swallow the thought as the judge begins to speak. As he reads out the list of charges I lower my eyes and try to summon Elspeth to my side again. But all I can see is the river and that secret spot where the two alder trees, leafless and bone clean, bend their heads towards each other. I recall the pain, the eerie silence. The panic. The fear. I hear the words I told myself over and over. This is for the best; this way I can wipe the slate clean and make it all better.

‘Margaret Rose Allan.’

The judge is addressing me. I stand up. I try to appear calm though my left leg is shaking violently.

The judge continues to speak. I hear the word

‘manslaughter’ and though I have prepared for this, the enormity of it suddenly hits.

‘How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?’ ‘Forgive me, Elspeth,’ I think as I enter my plea.

‘Please forgive me.’

About the book

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?

About the author

Nuala Ellwood is the author of two bestselling novels: My Sister’s Bones for which she was selected as one of Observer’s ‘New Faces of Fiction 2017’ and Day of the Accident. Nuala teaches Creative Writing at York St John University, and lives in the city with her young son.

*I was asked to share an extract of the book, by the publisher to help promote it.  I have not received any payment from the publisher or author for hosting this content.*

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