I have been increasing my reading lately and so I’m bringing the reviews out! Autumn by Ali Smith was a book that was quite vague about its intentions. I was both surprised and a little disappointed so let’s get right into it.
Claiming to be a short novel about love, I expected a half romance, half political satire which it was but in a totally opposite way. Autumn follows the protagonist, Elisabeth, who lives with her mother, grow up in modern England. She becomes friends with the strange neighbour, Daniel, who knows a lot about art and describes art from memory to Elisabeth. They love each other like best friends and, despite the age gap, have a lot in common. They both grow older and apart, reunited later in life when Daniel becomes sick and Elisabeth slowly learns who he is and who the artist was, that he discussed.
The present day of the book is just after the results of the Brexit referendum and so Elisabeth describes a Britain in turmoil. Half of the country feels one way and the other is aggressively racist. Elisabeth navigates a tedious world, of spending hours at the post office to renew her passport to pointless conversations with strangers. In a lighter sense, the author also comments on the exploitation of women by referencing the Pauline Boty / Christine Keeler scandal. The novel seems to depict a bleak time but also one of discovery, where there is no ageism of relationships, where love means different things and where people explore their political and sexual orientation.
Autumn was beautifully written, with the author, Ali Smith, having a poetic tendency. Since I really enjoy quite descriptive novels, and it is set in my favourite season, I did enjoy imagining the world that she created. It was also quite a quick read, owing to its small size and the ease of reading. It’s definitely something quirky and fun to pick up. That being said, it definitely wasn’t what I expected it to be, and I did only rate it 2 stars on Goodreads as it was one of my least favourite reads of the year. It wasn’t as much about hope as I thought it was, had a dull and uninspiring plot and wasn’t as thought provoking as I’d have liked it to be. I think, to truly appreciate it, you might have to read it twice.