Winter by Ali Smith
Review by Ben Hunter
Sophia Cleves, a businesswoman exhausted by age and isolation is Smith’s homage to Scrooge. Like Scrooge, Sophia is being paid visit by a ghost in many forms and is ushered, along with readers, through events past and present. We learn of her estrangement from her sister Iris, an activist newly returned from the European refugee crisis, and of young Art (short for Arthur) with his Art In Nature blog of largely false observations of a world that doesn’t really exist. This family sit side by side with one another but observe their world completely differently, working as a kind of model for a fractured, distressed nation.
Thrust in their midst is Lux, a Croatian girl collected form a bus stop that the substance-less Art pays to impersonate his (now ex) girlfriend Lucy over Christmas. “Lucy” sheds a light into this haunted Cornwell home and, in a way, draws its inmates together.
Winter is a simple yet strange book and I love it for the same reason I loved Autumn. These books have been written quickly to make beautiful the hideousness of our contemporary political climate. Autumn examines the hysterical selfish fear of the “other” that came to fore during the Brexit vote, and Winter looks at our increasingly dangerous fabricated realities and how they work to divide us. It takes a true master to take the banal, hatefulness of the twittersphere and turn it into art and magic.
Seasonal Quartet: Book 2
From the peerless author of Autumn and How to be both - the second novel in the Seasonal quartet.
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...
About the Contributor
Ben is Booktopia's dedicated fiction and children's book specialist. He spends his days painstakingly piecing together beautiful catalogue pages and gift guides for the website. At any opportunity, he loves to write warmly of the books that inspire him. If you want to talk books, find him tweeting at @itsbenhunter