322 pages
1
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WINTER

BY ALI SMITH

322 pages

A highly imaginative and modern poetic novel, Winter by Ali Smith is a re-modeling and evolving of two classic winter stories - Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and Shakespeare’s CymbelineWinter. The second in Ali Smith’s quartet, Winter takes the reader on a tale of Christmas past, present and future for a dysfunctional family gathering for the festive season in a lofty house in Cornwall.  

 

The narrative begins with Sophia, a lonely workaholic matriarch in her declining years who has company, but only in the form of a living and breathing floating ‘head’, reminiscent of Marley’s ghost. As well as the arrival of her estranged sister, Sophia’s son Art brings homes a ‘fake’ girlfriend to deceive his mother and survive the Christmas period, fearful of his own inadequacies. Smith creates a surreal world from the outset with references to the art world and a political landscape referencing Greenham Common, topical environmental issues and Brexit - all set against the everyday.

 

This novel is a weird and poetic deconstruction of our perceptions of reality versus fake - plus a muddling of words, with plenty of layers of meaning to be studied. As such, this book was not for everyone in the Den but you cannot fault Ali Smith’s clever and beautiful working of the novel. Plenty to talk about in your book club, but don’t expect too much festive cheer.

The Den previously reviewed the first instalment of Autumn which was thoroughly enjoyed as a Wild Card. Ali Smith’s Spring was released in March last year, in case you want to read her other novels before the release of Summer, expected in July 2020. 

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