Winter by Ali Smith: the second book of 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.

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.

Why should you read this book?

Winter (2017) is the second book of Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet. The first one, Autumn, was published in 2016. I read the first book of this cycle in January and I absolutely loved it. It was a book filled with silence and it spoke to my heart. It was my first Ali Smith’s and it was such a great literary experience. As I felt incredibly moved by Autumn, I was more than excited to start Winter.

Let’s start by saying that you don’t need to read Autumn to read Winter, but I would advise you to do it. Although both books have a different set of characters, they’re similar in several aspects. Both of them discuss our current political situation (Autumn focused mainly on Brexit while Winter on the United States presidential elections and the refugees crisis). Besides, the two books make reference to a forgotten female artist and explore scenes from our daily life.

Now, about WinterSophia, a retired business woman, lives in a huge house in Cornwall and is expecting her son, Art, for Christmas. Art is a pretentious blogger who is obsessed with his online community and, after being hacked by his girlfriend Charlotte, goes through an existential crisis. As a result of this, he ends his relationship but is now facing a small problem: he had promised his mother he would bring Charlotte for Christmas which would be their first encounter. Unable to tell his mother the truth, Art pays a random girl, Lux, to spend the holidays with his family. – Let me just say that I loved the moment when Art first laid eyes on Lux. She was reading and completely alienated from the real world. Consequently, Art presumed that she was reading an excellent book. It turns out she was only reading a take-out menu. – After their arrival, Lux decided to invite Iris – Sophia’s estranged sister – for Christmas.

In this book, Winter is the time of waiting. People are waiting life, movement and changes. Therefore, this Christmas will influence deeply the dynamic of this family. They will find their way back to each other. Although each of them is unique, they will manage to find way to communicate.

Like Autumn, Winter was a very enriching experience. One of the things I loved most about this text is that silence is absolutely crucial. The short and scarce dialogues are a prolix communication. In addition, I love how Ali Smith builds unusual characters and their unusual relationships. It simply reminds you that there isn’t only one way to love, to coexist and to relate. What matters is the way that works. Lastly, I would suggest that you do not overthink Ali Smith’s books while you’re reading them. Winter lacks linearity so I decided to go with the flow and not to attach myself to the plot, but to specific moments.

If you like strange, unique and brilliant books, well, this one is for you!

“Just like a flower. I’m growing wild.”

Book Details:

English Edition:
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Published on: November 2017
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 322
Price: £16.99

4 stars

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