AUTUMN by Ali Smith

From the Back Cover

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Two old friends—Daniel, a centenarian, and Elisabeth, born in 1984—look to both the future and the past as the United Kingdom stands 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.

My Thoughts

I knew basically nothing going into AUTUMN, the first in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet, but I was pleasantly surprised by the story! It follows two characters on two different time frames, the ’90s when young Elizabeth and Daniel are neighbors, spending their afternoons together, and present day, with thirty-something Elizabeth pretending to be Daniel’s daughter in order to visit him in a care center.

AUTUMN is really the story of Elizabeth and Daniel’s relationship, the influence he had on her childhood, and their differences growing up and living in very different times. But it’s also about their similarities, and that’s what makes this story feel so wholesome! AUTUMN is a short book, and the quickness of the prose makes it seem even shorter, but even with the little time I spent with Elizabeth and Daniel, I am still thinking about them days later.

“I’m tired of the news. I’m tired of the way it makes things spectacular that aren’t, and deals so simplistically with what’s truly appalling.”

I thoroughly enjoyed AUTUMN’s narration and prose, but it did take some getting used to and I can see some readers struggling with the disjointed, somewhat-chaotic narrative structure. Smith’s prose is incredibly sparse, and the story is all over the place but it works in the best possible way. If you can get through the spottiness, there is so much to appreciate.

“She likes to read, she reads all the time, and she prefers to be reading several things at once, she says it gives endless perspective and dimension.”

Because AUTUMN has been hailed as the first post-Brexit novel, I was expecting it to be more doom-and-gloom, but I found it quite the opposite. AUTUMN is heartwarming, hopeful, and, at times, hilarious–Elizabeth’s passport application process had me cackling. AUTUMN is profound, timely, and highly readable. I am beyond excited to continue with Smith’s Seasonal Quartet.

7 Comments

  1. Literary Elephant

    Great review! Ali Smith and the seasonal quartet are on my list, though Autumn has been on my radar long enough that I’d forgotten what to expect in terms of characters and plot- it’s helpful to get a refresher, and encouraging to see that you liked the book and are planning to continue the series! I really should pick it up. And I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the books!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. flyingelectra

    I have read all four of them and loved them and cried at the end ! You’ll meet Elizabeth and Daniel again 😉 I actually enjoy very much Ali Smith’s narrative and how it seems always a little bit messy. The next ones go along as the UK were actually understanding what will happen once they are out of Europe (and now they know). The next one is still warm and hopeful (Winter is my favorite, I laughed a lot you definitely have to read it) and then you’ll see how she gets angry with her government in a very unique way. But it’s always beautiful and her characters are so likeable. I cried. I am glad I own them all and will definitely read them again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hannah and Her Books

      I’m SO excited you loved them so much, and that I’ll get to see Elizabeth and Daniel again!! I’m planning on reading WINTER sometime in December or January. Thank you so much for your thoughts, it’s wonderful to hear from someone who enjoyed the quartet so much! I’m even more excited to continue now! 😀

      Like

  3. Linda I PagesandPapers

    Funnily enough, we discussed this book in our last Brex-Lit seminar and half of the class actually hated it (to the surprise of our professor who loved it). Personally, I’d say it wasn’t really my cup of tea as I’m more into plot-driven narratives, but this is just my personal preference. I think my professor would really like your review though 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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