Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer.Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever. Ali Smith's new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet--four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)--and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d'esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making. Here's where we're living. Here's time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic. From the imagination of the...
|Title||:||Autumn (Seasonal #1)|
|Number of Pages||:||264 pages|
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Autumn (Seasonal #1) Reviews
Update: Shortlisted for the Booker and it would be a wonderfully worthy winner - and the novel has aged better than I had predicted - if anything as the written-as-you-read-it Brexit autumn leaves have faded, the evergreen parts of the text show through.
Pauline Boty with her, now lost, painting Scandal 63 based on (a variation of) the famous Christine Keeler photographic portrait by Lewis Morley.
For my full review of Autumn please see the excellent Mookse and Gripes blog (to which this review is ...more
This book didn’t capture me as much as some of the other Ali Smith books out there. Not that “Autumn” is not relevant to me or to this world today, because this is in many ways a book about Brexit and our view on people and the world. It’s about how things were in the past and how things are now, and it’s about the seasons changing (for the worse?).
After all, the book starts out “It was the worst of times, It was the worst of times” with a nice (and not the only) reference to Dickens. But even ...more
Death, Dickens, refugees, trees, fear, old age, Brexit, friendship, Shakespeare, love, lies, Christine Keeler, art, fences, stories, Pauline Boty (lots of the lovely Pauline Boty), seeing, Keats, disillusionment, rebirth, Ovid, exclusion, women, awakening.
(Even 'Trump' is a one-word sentence within the novel, though I hesitate to add it to the list, except to note that it adds to the contemporaneity. Perhaps she means the verb and it's an imperative sentence...nope.)
Weave all of the above an ...more
This is a rewarding story of friendship over the long haul, the kind that seems to stand outside time. The relationship is between a female art historian and an elderly family neighbor, a man who listened to and empowered her from starting around age 10. We dip into the past of their connection as we experience Elisabeth in our present communing with her buddy Daniel in his lucid moments at a nursing home during his final fade with dementia at age 101. There is a sense of refuge and sanity for h ...more
I really enjoyed Autumn, which is possibly Ali Smith’s most accessible book yet, however I wasn’t as wholly blown away by it as most people. I mean it’s still BRILLIANT because it’s Ali Smith. I adored the story of Daniel and Elisabeth over the years, I loved how Elizabeth’s mother developed. I agreed politically on Brexit and her observations of the good and bad... the art bit though just didn’t feel needed and dragged me away from what I was loving. And loving so much. Just my thoughts. Will b ...more
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.
My fourth book from the Booker longlist, this is another that, like Reservoir 13, would have made a worthy winner. At the time of its release this book was billed as the first Brexit novel, but there is so much more to it than that.
update 19 Oct - Sadly, and yet again, Ali Smith did not win, but I was very impressed by her performance and the way she encouraged Emily Fridlund and Fiona Mozley at the Nottingham shortlist readings event, which I attended last week (the other three shortlisted wri ...more
This is not only the first of four novels based on the seasons, but it has also been acclaimed as the first Brexit novel. This makes it very British in some ways and the feelings in the country and the reactions to the vote form part of the novel, as in this much quoted piece:
“All across the country, there was misery and rejoicing. All across the country, what had happened whipped about by itself as if a live electric wire had snapped off a pylon in a storm and was whipping about in the air abov ...more