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Book Review – Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton) ISBN: 9780241207017

‘It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times…’ The novel starts with this revised version of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities.

Autumn is the first of a seasonal quartet. It’s a chain of stories around Daniel Gluck and Elisabeth Demand. 101-year-old Daniel lives in a care home in an indistinct state between being asleep and being awake. Elisabeth met him twenty years ago when she had a school project on her neighbour and they became close friends. He introduced her to a world of wit and language, storytelling and art.

Often she could not distinguish when a story was real or invented. During the course of the book the reader learns how the bond between the two of them developed.

Smith again plays with language in this lyrical novel that almost reads like music. Some parts of the book reminded me of the poetry of e.e. cummings. In a whirlwind of words a lot of the story is implied. There are layers I only understood by continuing to read.

Ali Smith is well known for her innovative and inventive writing style. She has won several awards for her previous novels.

Pauline Vijverberg

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