|Series:||Seasonal Quartet Ser.|
Ali Smith's Winter is dazzling. The second in her ‘Seasons’ quartet, she again, as in Autumn, draws richness out of desolation. Strangely, the novel opens with Sophia, lonely and retired, conversing with a detached head. Not too far along we meet Arthur, her son, who has just fallen out with his girlfriend Charlotte, who has accused him of being a fraud and politically disconnected. Charlotte, aggrieved by his uselessness, has drilled holes through his laptop, taken off and taken over his ‘art and nature’ blog, posting false and possibly libelous material. Arthur (Art as he is affectionately known to his family) has to travel to Cornwall to visit Sophia for Christmas, and he is meant to be arriving with Charlotte. In desperation, he finds a stand-in, Lux, who he pays a thousand pounds to pretend to be Charlotte for the long weekend. Arriving at Sophia's home, they find Sophia sitting huddled in layers of clothes in a cold house, not quite herself. Lux takes it upon herself to make Art contact Iris, his aunt. And here the novel starts to unfold. The fraught relationship between the sisters, one the seemingly conservative businesswoman, the other the 'wild child' activist who chained herself to the fence at Greenham Common, still protesting and aiding the disempowered. The conversations between the sisters reveal much to Arthur about his upbringing. Yet more is revealed to Lux, the stranger in the mix, who Sophia seems to trust. Lux is a recent migrant, studying English literature before she ran out of money and now making do with low-pay jobs and sleeping anywhere she isn’t noticed. Her brief interlude in this winter Christmas family tale is inspired - a catalyst for change. Ali Smith draws us in with cool, icy precision - Winter, like the season, is deep, dark and melancholic when we enter the novel - yet she gives us love and hope, and lets us see the green shoots waiting for the snow to melt. Like Autumn, Winter is a book about time and place, about now - refugees, fires in substandard towers - about what binds families and also what splits them asunder. Smith can take a simple series of events with a cast of few and tell us so much about ourselves, and the culture (art, literature, language) and choices that shape us. And she does it with intelligence, wit and style.
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE 2018
The dazzling second novel in Ali Smith's essential Seasonal Quartet -- from the Baileys Prize-winning, Man Booker-shortlisted author of Autumn and How to be both
A Book of the Year according to: the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, the Evening Standard, The Times.
'Dazzling' Daily Telegraph
Winter? Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. The shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The summer's leaves? Dead litter.
The world shrinks; the sap sinks.
But winter makes things visible. And if there's ice, there'll be fire.
In Ali Smith's Winter, lifeforce matches up to the toughest of the seasons. In this second novel in her acclaimed Seasonal cycle, the follow-up to her sensational Autumn, Smith's shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens: art, love, laughter.
It's the season that teaches us survival.
Here comes Winter.
Ali Smith is the author of Free Love and Other Stories, Like, Other Stories and Other Stories, Hotel World, The Whole Story and Other Stories, The Accidental, Girl Meets Boy, The First Person and Other Stories, There but for the, Artful, How to be both, Public library and other stories and Autumn. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange Prize. How to be both won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Folio Prize. Ali Smith lives in Cambridge.