Summer

Read 28/10/2020-09/11/2020

Rating 4 stars

Summer is the final book in Ali Smith’s ambitious Seasonal Quartet. It’s about change; the necessity of it so that things can be made new; the opportunity it offers for us to redefine ourselves in response to it; the choices we make and the consequences they hold. It’s also a drawing together of threads that travel through the other books, with returning characters and crossing themes. Continue reading

Spring

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Read 22/04/2019-24/04/2019

Rating 3 stars

The third installment in Ali Smith’s seasons quartet, Spring, begins with Spring herself addressing the reader in all her rude vitality. I’ve been waiting to read this novel since I finished reading Winter, and also worrying about how Smith could possibly maintain the standard set in the first two books in the sequence. I enjoyed it very much. It has a different tone to the previous two books, slightly weary at times, but the central thrust of the story is beautiful. Continue reading

The Accidental

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Read 17/03/2019-20/03/2019

Rating 3 stars

Prior to The Accidental, I’d read four novels by Ali Smith, all of them belters. The Accidental is her third novel but her sixth published work. It appears on Boxall’s list of the 1001 books you should read before you die (I know, Boxall says you MUST read them, but I don’t think you should put that kind of pressure on people in case they end up resenting you and the books you love). I’m having a small moment of trying to read the female authors on the list, so I borrowed The Accidental from my local library. Continue reading

Winter: a chat with Weezelle

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Read 07/12/2017-12/12/2017

Rating: 4 stars

When I read and commented on Weezelle’s review of Autumn, and mentioned that I had both Autumn and Winter next in line for reading, Weezelle suggested that we wrote a joint review of the second book in the sequence. So here we are.

We live on opposite sides of the globe (don’t you love the internet? Please, America, don’t end Net Neutrality), and had to negotiate an 11 hour time difference, as well as Weezelle moving house. Through the magic of Twitter DMs and cut & paste, we had a wonderful, wide ranging discussion. Continue reading

Autumn

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Read 02/12/2017-06/12/2017

Rating: 5 stars

I’m a recent convert to the writing of Ali Smith. The first of hers I picked up from the library was How to be Both, her 2016 Women’s Prize for Fiction winner. I followed that up with There But For The. There are others in the library that I will also borrow. I bought Autumn with my birthday money. I liked the sound of a quartet of books about contemporary Britain rooted in the seasons. I liked the sound of the first in the quartet being about the EU Referendum and everything that surrounds that central cataclysm in recent British life. I liked that Smith chose to start in my favourite season.

The book is beautiful. One of the main characters, Daniel, is in a care home, drifting in and out of consciousness, dreaming about his death. He’s a centenarian. The other main character is Elisabeth. She is more than sixty years younger than Daniel, but they have been lifelong friends since she was eight years old. Continue reading

There but for the

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Read 11/05/2017-14/05/2017

Rating: 4 stars

There but for the is the second book by Ali Smith that I’ve read, and it’s confirmed her as a new favourite author for me.

The book is quite surreal. Miles Garth has locked himself in a spare room belonging to a middle class couple he doesn’t know who live in Greenwich. Continue reading

How to be both

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Read 12/03/2017-13/03/2017

Rating: 5 stars

Ali Smith wrote the introductions to some of the recent English translations of Tove Jansson’s non-Moomin books. I liked her observations, so decided I should read something by her.

I picked a book at random from the shelf in my local library, and came home with How to be Both. I had no idea what it was about. It starts with a woman coming to terms with the death of her mother. Continue reading