Review 1312: Autumn

Cover for AutumnAutumn is the first of Ali Smith’s planned Seasonal Quartet. I believe Winter is already out. The first is about, among many other things, Brexit.

Daniel Gluck may be dying. He is an elderly man, over 100, and he dreams, among other things, that he has become his younger self and that he is turning into a tree. At his side reading to him is Elisabeth Demand, a thirty-two-year-old lecturer who has known him since she was eight. He taught her how to invent stories, approach the world creatively, and think critically. He always greets her with, “What are you reading?”

As Elisabeth walks around the village where her mother lives, she observes the various attitudes about Brexit. Some people are exultant while others are horrified. Her mind goes to A Tale of Two Cities, which she is reading to Daniel: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

It’s beyond my powers to provide much more than a suggestion of this novel, which touches on so many subjects, among them British pop artist Pauline Boty, Christine Keeler of the Profumo scandal, our experience of time, the relationship between mothers and daughters and brothers and sisters. I’ll just say that I found the novel both intellectually challenging and touching. I read it for my Man Booker project.

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6 thoughts on “Review 1312: Autumn

  1. Helen February 5, 2019 / 2:32 pm

    I haven’t read this as I wasn’t sure if it would be my sort of book, but most people seem to have enjoyed it so maybe I’ll try it.

    • whatmeread February 5, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      Hmm, not sure about it, either. How to Be Both might be more interesting to you, as it has a historical part.

  2. Naomi February 7, 2019 / 2:16 pm

    I wish people would always greet me with “What are you reading?”. 🙂

  3. Jane February 8, 2019 / 2:28 pm

    I’ve looked at these books for a while and wondered if I should give them a go – i think I will from your review, but after I’ve read a Tale of Two Cities. There is no getting away from Brexit is there?!

    • whatmeread February 8, 2019 / 4:47 pm

      Well, I’m in the States, so there is for me! But I know what you mean.

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