A once-in-a-generation series, Ali Smith's Seasonal Quartet is a tour-de-force about love, time, art, politics, and how we live now.
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 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.
Discover all four instalments: Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. Ali Smith's new novel, Companion piece, is available to pre-order now.
'Dazzling . . . Even in the bleak midwinter, Smith is evergreen' Daily Telegraph
'Graceful, mischievous, joyful . . . Infused with some much-needed humour, happiness and hope' Independent
'A novel of great ferocity, tenderness and generosity of spirit . . . Luminously beautiful' Observer
In the solid second entry in Smith's seasonally themed quartet of novels (following Booker Prize-finalist Autumn), three estranged relatives and a charming stranger argue their way through Christmas in a manor house in the English countryside. After splitting up with his longtime girlfriend, Art, a copyright specialist turned nature blogger, decides to pay Lux, a girl he meets at a bus stop, to impersonate her during a visit to the home of his difficult mother, Sophia. Complicating matters is the arrival of Iris, Sophia's activist sister, whose presence dredges up painful memories for Art and Sophia. Interspersed between debates on Brexit, conservationism, and American politics are flashbacks to various episodes from Sophia and Iris's youth, including poignant scenes of Iris's nuclear disarmament protest and Sophia's first encounter with Art's absent father. Like Autumn, the novel employs a scattered, evocative plot and prose style, reflecting the fractured emotional, intellectual, and political states occupied by its contemporary characters. Though the approach misses more than it hits this time out, it's still an engaging novel due to the ecstatic energy of Smith's writing, which is always present on the page.