Author(s): Ali Smith

Novel | Read our reviews!

The unmissable conclusion to Ali Smith's dazzling, Man Booker-shortlisted, Seasonal Quartet.

In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile, the world’s in meltdown­—and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.

This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: Where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?



In the final book of the 'Seasons' quartet, Ali Smith once again delivers a brilliant and splendid novel, Summer. Opening with some true and awful happenings in recent times — government corruption, politicians who openly lie, raging fires due to climate change, the rise of fascism, rejection of refugees — and the upshot of these challenges being a shrug accompanied by a 'So?', Ali Smith cuts to the core of an apparently apathetic modern culture. But then, it’s also not. Protest, both peaceful and disruptive, activism via social media and the rise of mass action (Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion) all have their moment in this novel, which is set precisely now. Yes, even Covid is there. For a publishing industry that moves traditionally slowly, Ali Smith has pulled off some kind of feat: a book written and published absolutely in the moment. As with all the quartet, Smith draws on her vast knowledge of art and literature, and for Summer we have references to Dickens and to Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, as to well less-known figures such as filmmaker Lorenza Mazzetti. And while the books are experimental in nature — the novel doing something to us with its mirror to our immediate world — Smith also gives us excellent story-telling, cleverly tying us back to her first in the series, Autumn. Enter sixteen-year-old Sacha and her precious (yet brilliant) brother Robert and their family. Their parents are living in separate houses next door to each other, driven apart, in part, by their differing views (and votes) on Brexit. Sacha is fighting against political apathy and Robert is quoting new right rhetoric. When Robert hinders Sacha with time (you’ll have to read Summer to find out what happens) the family strike up an unexpected meeting with Arthur and Charlotte, on-line media writers, who are on their way to return an object (which just happens to be a Barbara Hepworth sculpture) to Daniel Gluck. You might remember Gluck from Autumn — the 100yr-old man whose dreams we entered. And here, we step back in time with Daniel to 1940 and the internment of alien persons in England during WWII. Daniel and his father are interned as German Englishmen (Daniel is Jewish), while his sister is somewhere in France working for the resistance. Here you have a focus on another time which was fraught with difficulties, with delusions and despair, but also it was a strangely creative and communal time — many European artists, musicians and writers who had escaped fascism, were rounded up and imprisoned together and this was a springboard for postwar endeavours. Summer is a book that will both stun you and fill you with hope, moments of kindness, forgiveness, and a window to a better world if we dare to step through. There is so much in these pages that you will be immersed without trying, and like all the books in this quartet, it operates on several layers (the stories, the art, the literary references, the political landscape, the ability of art to act as a catharsis, and the exploration of what a novel can be) allowing you, as the reader, to dive as deeply as you wish. Full submersion recommended. 


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Product Information

Longlist - Women's Prize for Fiction 2021

"A prose poem in praise of memory, forgiveness, getting the joke and seizing the moment.” — Dwight Garner, The New York Times

General Fields

  • : 9780241207079
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : Hamish Hamilton
  • : 0.524
  • : March 2019
  • : 23.40 cmmm X 15.30 cmmm
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Ali Smith
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : en
  • : 823.92
  • : 208