Autumn by Ali Smith is a Brexit novel but at the same time, it isn’t. It’s a story about love, friendship and growing old. The description on Goodreads is just as vague: Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, 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…
Some passages are very abstract and it’s filled with metaphors. Sometimes there’s a metaphor within a metaphor. And there’s no chronological timeline or specific plot. Things just happen, and Ali Smith does an excellent job at making the mundane seem interesting.
Although it’s short, it’s not the type of book you should rush through. On the contrary, I enjoyed it more when I read it slower. The reader must be committed to pay attention and make inferences, as many of the events and things described require interpretation. There’s also a lot of cultural references which I suggest you look up in case you don’t know much about them.
There’s a main character, two actually, Elizabeth and Mr. Gluck. But they’re not the sole focus of the story. The narrator is sometimes omnipresent, sometimes tacitly becomes the characters, while other times it narrates scenes with no characters involved.
There’s a prominent Virginia Woolf influence, but Ali Smith has a more modern, direct, and unique style. Her words flow easily, it feels as if you were floating in a body of water and the only way to read the novel is to let yourself go and flow with the current.
I cannot wait to read the rest of the seasonal quartet.
Overall rating: 4/5