An Accidental Woman

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Published by: Pocket
Release Date: July 16, 2002
Pages: 550
ISBN13: 978-0743411264



What would you do if a trusted best friend were suddenly arrested and charged with a crime that occurred before you ever knew her? What if she refused to talk about it? What if you had a dark past of your own to protect?

This is Poppy Blake’s dilemma as An Accidental Woman begins. The setting is Lake Henry, New Hampshire, and the season is late winter, just as the maple sap is about to be harvested and boiled down into syrup. A lifelong Lake Henryite, Poppy has been in a wheelchair for twelve years. But she is active and vibrant, truly the pulse of Lake Henry as she mans the town’s phones. Poppy desperately wants to help her friend, though it will mean facing demons of her own.

The cast of An Accidental Woman includes many of those from Lake News, among others, the man who most challenges Poppy’s conscience, Griffin Hughes. Here is a story of the power of community, the poignancy of life’s twists, and, lightly, the sweetness of maple syrup.


“The twisty plot and icy late-winter backdrop…will keep you chilling on a hot afternoon.”

“Delinsky has strong characters in Blake, who disability never impedes her work, and Hughes, who looks past his lover’s disability to the woman within.”
—Baltimore Sun

“A good story in an idyllic and lovingly rendered setting.”
—The Calgary Sun


Within seconds of coming awake, Micah Smith felt a chill at the back of his neck that had nothing to do with the cold air seeping in through the window cracked open by his side of the bed. It was barely dawn. He didn't have to glance past Heather's body toward the nightstand clock to know that, but could see it in the purpling that preceded daylight when February snows covered the forest floor.

The purpling seemed deeper this morning, but that wasn't what caused his alarm. Nor was it any sound from the girls' room that caused him to hold his breath. They would sleep for another hour, he knew, and if not sleep, then stay in bed until they heard Heather or him up and about.

No. What held him totally still, eyes on that inch of open window, was the sound that came from beyond. Even in winter, the woods were filled with live things, but what he heard now was neither deer, nor owl, nor snowshoe rabbit. It was a car, moving very slowly down the snow-crusted drive toward the small house that Micah had built for his family.

Get out of bed, cried a silent voice, but he remained inert. Barely breathing, he listened. Not one car. Two. They inched their way closer, then stopped. Their engines went still.

Read the full excerpt


You all asked for this one. You wrote me in unprecedented numbers, wanting to know more about Poppy Blake, the sister of the protagonist of Lake News— and I thought it would be easy returning to a town I had already built, rather than having to design yet another one from scratch.

Was I ever wrong! It was a total challenge making sure that I replicated Lake Henry correctly – because I knew that if there were inconsistencies, you folks would catch them. I had to get names right. I had to get the town center right. I actually found a potential error in the layout of roads as I portrayed them in Lake News. I clarified that in An Accidental Woman.

An Accidental Woman is not a sequel. It is set in the same town as Lake News, but it focuses on different people and different events. Much as I love Lake News, it is by no means a prerequisite for your enjoyment of An Accidental Woman.

Discussion Guide

1. What was the nature of Poppy’s relationship with her mother? How does it affect her?
2. What is the basis of Poppy’s ties to Lake Henry?
3. Are the characteristics of a small town good or bad?
4. Was Griffin proactive or reactive?
5. What is the role of the past and guilt in our lives?
6. Was Heather right to keep silent around Missy and Star?
7. What was the nature of Heather’s guilt?
8. What kind of relationship will Heather and Thea have in the future?