Books Magazine

Spring by Ali Smith

By Pamelascott

What unites Katherine Mansfield, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Rilke, Beethoven, Brexit, the present, the past, the north, the south, the east, the west, a man mourning lost times, a woman trapped in modern times?

Spring. The great connective.

With an eye to the migrancy of story over time, and riffing on Pericles, one of Shakespeare's most resistant and rollicking works; Ali Smith tells the impossible tale of an impossible time. In a time of walls and lockdown Smith opens the door.

The time we're living in is changing nature. Will it change the nature of story?

Hope springs eternal.


[Now what we don't want is Facts]


(Hamish Hamilton, 28 March 2019, hardback, 336 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib)



I enjoyed the first two books in Smith's seasonal quartet, Autumn and Winter. Spring is just as good a read as the other two books. I look forward to reading Summer. Apparently, there are links between the books which I haven't spotted but that stuff doesn't matter to me anyway. Like the other books in the series, the events in Spring resonate deeply with modern times. In this case, the Irish borders and borders erected to deter immigrants. There is much more going on here than can be understood in one reading and I've only skimmed the surface as I read for pleasure. I also didn't realise how Dickensian the books are until I read the opening of Spring which plays on Dicken's Hard Times. I loved Richard, struggling to get to grip with life after the death of his best friend and collaborator, Patricia. I also loved Brittany and the bond she makes with teenage Florence. Smith is a genius and so far her Seasonal Quartet is quite impressive. I will probably re-read them once the final book is released so I can spot the nuances between them.

Spring Smith

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