Autumn brings to mind beauty that’s fleeting, marking the end of a life and holding the promise of a new one. Ali Smith’s 2017 Booker shortlisted book is part of a quartet, all named after seasons.

Daniel Gluck and Elisabeth have an unusual friendship. In years, they are apart nearly 70 years and they made their acquaintance when they lived in houses next to each other. As we learn about their lives, in the drab present, devoid of hope; misery and fear curling at the edges we can’t but fail to wonder at how the relationship has been. We revisit the past through flashbacks and even through Daniel’s failing mind, and see the beauty of life and of life’s bonds.

The impressionable 8 year old and the septuagenarian hit it off instantly and have many conversations about art and life. There’s so much poignancy in this relationship as Elisabeth looks after the dying Daniel in a health care facility that it tugs at your heart strings.

The narrative juxtaposes the mundane with the remarkable; the measuring of a passport photo and Brexit, the immensity of decisions of the state with the little rebellion of common people, in terms of their allegiance and even sexuality.

The real life British pop artist Pauline Boty is a recurring theme. Her times and life, her irrepressible art and spirit bring in lightness and hope in an otherwise hopeless existence where careers are stagnant and money is tight.

Autumn is that winding down of lives lived brilliantly, an ode to memories and moments, beautiful in their fragility.

This book review is written for #BlogchatterA2Z.

6 thoughts on “Autumn by Ali Smith

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