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(Seasonal #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  34,703 ratings  ·  2,772 reviews
Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? 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 ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published October 20th 2016 by Hamish Hamilton
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Karen I felt it was rather scrappy & dull when I started but I carried on with it because I’d picked it for my books club. I tried again and I found out…moreI felt it was rather scrappy & dull when I started but I carried on with it because I’d picked it for my books club. I tried again and I found out how everyone mal was so soul
Henry my 14 year old daughter loved 'Boy Meets Girl'. Autumn is not her best work - and works best when read with Winter

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3.72  · 
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 ·  34,703 ratings  ·  2,772 reviews

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Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: british, booker
I don’t know. I don’t know what to write about Autumn. I don’t even know what I’ve read. What was I supposed to get from this book, what was the purpose? Was it a Brexit novel? I don’t think so. It does talk some about Brexit. But it also talks about a strange friendship between a little girl (presently grown up) and an old man. Odd conversations those two had. And about a dubious Pop Artist. There were also a few weird, moderately fun, post office conversations. There were some interesting part ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, uk, reviewed
This is England

Autumn is to be the first instalment of ‘a seasonal quartet’ that Ali Smith plans to write - a cycle ‘exploring the subjective experience of time, questioning the nature of time itself'. Triggered to read it by the title – autumn is my favourite season – this first instalment was a wondrous introduction to Smith’s prose for me, so I eagerly look forward to the next parts now.

Autumn is a playful, multi-layered and at times delectably subversive novel on the floating of time, aging,
Diane S ☔
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ali Smith is not an easy author to read and yet her words and thoughts are beautiful. If you like a linear plot, you will not find it here, though it is mostly set in the period after Brexit, it goes back and forth in time. To a friendship between a young girl and an elderly man, a man who had quite a past, which is slowly uncovered. The thoughts expressed about Brexit are the same many are expressing here in the states after our recent election. Wonderfully and adroitly expressed about the way ...more
What are you reading?

A tale of two people.

Tell me about it.

It's a book full of leaves, green ones and brown ones. And white ones too, of course.

Ha! But seriously, describe it to me.

It's a book with a hole in the middle.

Now you're just being absurd.

No, wait. There's really as much absence as presence in this book.

Tell me what's in it - not what's not in it.

It's a book of fragments that fit together in odd arrangements.

Give me an example of the way the fragments fit together.

There's a sister who
Barry Pierce
Hailed as the first post-Brexit novel, in Autumn Ali Smith proves to us all that she is probably the greatest writer currently working in the United Kingdom. The fact that this novel was published a mere four months after the disastrous Brexit vote but yet analyses its aftermath as a central theme shows a turnaround that is nearly insane. Smith must have practically vomited this novel into her word processor, which makes its utter flawlessness almost divine.

The novel begins with a man, Daniel
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My fourth book from the Booker longlist, this is another that, like Reservoir 13, would have made a worthy winner. At the time of its release this book was billed as the first Brexit novel, but there is so much more to it than that.

update 19 Oct - Sadly, and yet again, Ali Smith did not win, but I was very impressed by her performance and the way she encouraged Emily Fridlund and Fiona Mozley at the Nottingham shortlist readings event, which I attended last week (the other three shortlisted wri
Violet wells
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was struggling with this initially. Ali Smith's prose style reminds me of someone dressed in a dressing gown and slippers, hair unbrushed, wandering about a house with barely a grain of self-consciousness. In stark contrast to lots of writers who spend hours in front the mirror, layering on embellishment after embellishment, before they take a step onto the page. Smith can give the impression of voicing aloud her thoughts the moment she has them. No artificial colouring or sweetening additives ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, arc, netgalley
"April come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May she will stay
Resting in my arms again
June she'll change her tune
In restless walks she'll prowl the night"

--“April Come She Will” lyrics by Paul Simon

"It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times."

Traveling back and forth through time, the past to the present, from Elisabeth’s childhood and meeting her new neighbor Daniel Gluck, to the brink of the political climate that began with Brexit, this story covers a lot of terri
My thoughts are all over the place for this book – maybe fitting because this is what this book is as well: all over the place. There is undeniable brilliance here: sentences so profound they made me stop in my tracks, word plays so wonderful I had to read them twice, musing on a great number of important things. It comes as no surprise that Ali Smith is a genius. But for some reasons these sparks of brilliance never came together for a coherent whole for me – and I guess this was also the point ...more
I'm not sure I can do justice to reviewing this or explaining what it is about - I suspect each time it's read, a new layer is revealed and it becomes something quite different. Let me just say the writing and wordplay is superb! Imaginative, perceptive, unexpectedly quite funny in places, and tender in others. I'd say the resounding theme in this book is loss - summer gives way to autumn in the seasons and in our lives, but there is beauty to be found in the journey.

Don't go in to this expectin
It is November and outside my front door roses are still blooming. Their color is a deep rich clear pink. They look better than they did in the dry heat of summer.

Smith’s first novel in her proposed quartet of volumes is an utter delight. I’d never encountered her voice before but when I got to the end, I looked again at the beginning. Just as well, because I had forgotten that Daniel speaks, briefly, before the story gets picked up by “his granddaughter,” Elisabeth, with an “s.”

What I find quee
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was going to save this to read in the autumn, but then it was included in the Man Booker Prize Long List so I moved it up.

This is described as a post-Brexit novel, and it does take place in that world and mentions it a few times in a few different ways, but more in the way that all of us continue in the world as it changes around us.
"...I'm tired of the news. I'm tired of the way it makes things spectacular that aren't, and deals so simplistically with what's truly appalling. I'm tired of the
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ali-smith
This is not only the first of four novels based on the seasons, but it has also been acclaimed as the first Brexit novel. This makes it very British in some ways and the feelings in the country and the reactions to the vote form part of the novel, as in this much quoted piece:
“All across the country, there was misery and rejoicing. All across the country, what had happened whipped about by itself as if a live electric wire had snapped off a pylon in a storm and was whipping about in the air abov
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heaps of spine-tingling narrative pleasure. One feels one’s short hairs standing on end while reading. Horripilating, is that the word? Like migraine aura but far more fun. Autumn’s a book about enlightened values versus what we’ve been getting lately from the mobocracy. No need to mention the B word or the T word here. Most things I read, the author’s point of view does not reflect my values, though he or she may come close. Quite the opposite with Autumn. Reading Smith one feels one has met wi ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it liked it
[A formidable 3.5]

[Originally appeared here:]

She has done it in the past; and she does it again here. Ali Smith’s fixation on, and a visible mastery of, story-telling across timeline, in no particular order, shines in this experimental, breezy novel as well.

Centred around the 30-something Elisabeth Demand and her centenarian friend, Daniel Gluck, Autumn is a long, vibrant, occasionally melancholic, sometimes acerbic but entirely warming season of their fr
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Autumn, which is possibly Ali Smith’s most accessible book yet, however I wasn’t as wholly blown away by it as most people. I mean it’s still BRILLIANT because it’s Ali Smith. I adored the story of Daniel and Elisabeth over the years, I loved how Elizabeth’s mother developed. I agreed politically on Brexit and her observations of the good and bad... the art bit though just didn’t feel needed and dragged me away from what I was loving. And loving so much. Just my thoughts. Will b ...more
Lark Benobi
The novel seems to want to present me with all the sadness in the world, and all the bleakness of recent history, and it seemed determined to remind me of all the meannesses that people can heap upon one another (some of it through neglect) (some of it through evil acts)--and yet even as the novel forced me to face these things, at its center was a beautiful hope. The novel is a paean to the power of language, and to the mystery of human interaction, and to the way small daily gestures of kindne ...more
Matthew Quann
I finished this novel a few days ago, but put off the review. To speak quite frankly, I think Autumn is a novel that is a touch too smart for me to properly wrap my head around. Smith's prose flips, twists, jumps, and skitters across the page with vivacity and wit, but also left me feeling overwhelmed with stylistic experimentation. So, I turned to interviews with Smith and reviews others have written to better understand what I had just read.

It isn't simply the writing that left me confused, bu
Roger Brunyate

Every Story Tells a Picture

At the heart of Ali Smith's seemingly chaotic but actually tightly-organized new novel is a love relationship, between a thirtyish art lecturer, Elisabeth Demand, and a 101-year-old man, Daniel Gluck. Their love was born over two decades earlier, when Elisabeth's mother roped in her elderly neighbor to look after her daughter. And what a baby-sitter Daniel turns out to be: playful, irreverent, respectful, and always intellectually challenging! One afternoon, he offers
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
At first I couldn't be sure whether I loved or hated this short novel. Ali Smith's language is like a maze for the mind. It's both stilted and beautiful, a stream of consciousness that reworks the reader's own thoughts into a new pattern. It feels like a freeing of the consciousness but also like a new set of walls. It takes you outside your own experience of time, but forces you into someone else's, stating with a character's death dreamscape. It's not always comfortable. In many ways reminded ...more
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it

Death, Dickens, refugees, trees, fear, old age, Brexit, friendship, Shakespeare, love, lies, Christine Keeler, art, fences, stories, Pauline Boty (lots of the lovely Pauline Boty), seeing, Keats, disillusionment, rebirth, Ovid, exclusion, women, awakening.

(Even 'Trump' is a one-word sentence within the novel, though I hesitate to add it to the list, except to note that it adds to the contemporaneity. Perhaps she means the verb and it's an imperative sentence...nope.)

Weave all of the above an
4.5★ (Read and reviewed February 28, 2017)

Oh my, what to make of this book? I’ve not read Ali Smith before, and I can’t recall anything that was quite the mix of poetry, history, art, family dynamics, and philosophy – not to mention politics.

I love her writing – I would have enjoyed the Pop Art more if I’d had any idea who the artist was (link below). And I’m overloaded with politics and populism and Brexit, so less of that would have suited me better, because I was really enjoying the “story”,
MJ Nicholls
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ali Smith is a prolific story writer, critic, and playwright, but her novels alone have blasted her into the mesosphere of critical adulation, and this first part of an exciting seasonal quartet furthers her familiar brand of humorous, gentle, playful, and bedazzling brilliance. Timehopping across the century, the novel focuses on the adopted father relationship between an art lecturer and an enigmatic former dancer, lyricist, and sixties art scenester. Featuring another of Smith’s precocious yo ...more
Oct 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, kindle, man-booker
Nobody writes like Ali Smith. That's absolutely my favorite thing about her books. Once you start reading you remember just how witty, observant, and playful she is, and how that comes through so clearly through her writing style. It's no different in Autumn, the first in a quartet of seasonal novels the author has begun, musing on art, politics, and the tumultuous nature of life in all its different seasons.

This first installment is clearly a post-Brexit musing—but that's not all it aims to be.
This is a rewarding story of friendship over the long haul, the kind that seems to stand outside time. The relationship is between a female art historian and an elderly family neighbor, a man who listened to and empowered her from starting around age 10. We dip into the past of their connection as we experience Elisabeth in our present communing with her buddy Daniel in his lucid moments at a nursing home during his final fade with dementia at age 101. There is a sense of refuge and sanity for h ...more
Paul Fulcher
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, booker-2017
Update: Shortlisted for the Booker and it would be a wonderfully worthy winner - and the novel has aged better than I had predicted - if anything as the written-as-you-read-it Brexit autumn leaves have faded, the evergreen parts of the text show through.

Pauline Boty with her, now lost, painting Scandal 63 based on (a variation of) the famous Christine Keeler photographic portrait by Lewis Morley.
Pauline Boty with Scandal 63, taken by Michael Ward

For my full review of Autumn please see the excellent Mookse and Gripes blog (to which this review is
I love the word quotidian and it has to do with the following quote from the book:

Here's and old story so new that it's still in the middle of happening. Writing itself right now with no knowledge of where or how it'll end.

To me, this is the essence of this literary work.

Time travel is real, Daniel said. We do it all the time. Moment to moment, minute to minute.

And that's what makes us all quotidian beings, writing our own histories while reading other's stories. We're all in this time capsule
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
December 2016
I re-read this at the start of December and still think about it. I've upgraded it to 5 stars.

'Autumn' by Ali Smith

4.5 stars/ 9 out of 10

From the opening sentence (which is referential to the opening of one of Dickens' novels), to the end of this novel, Ali Smith has created a beautiful story which can be read on many levels. Ostensibly it is the story of the friendship between a young woman and an elderly man, that started when the young woman was a child. But there are layers behi
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This short novel is the first in a seasonal quartet – each a standalone book, but interconnected. I was listening to a podcast, “Books and Authors” set during the Edinburgh Festival, and somebody mentioned Ali Smith reading from her new work, which mentioned Brexit shortly after the result had been announced. That was this work and Smith perfectly captures that strange atmosphere which pervaded the country during that time.

Indeed, every country has moments that either unite, or divide, the peop
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Play Book Tag: Autumn - Ali Smith - (Decathlon) 3 stars 2 17 May 14, 2018 02:54PM  
Play Book Tag: Autumn/ Ali Smith - 3.5 stars 1 20 Dec 01, 2017 09:05PM  
Play Book Tag: Autumn by Ali Smith -- 3 stars 7 28 Nov 20, 2017 05:49AM  
Around the Year i...: Autumn, by Ali Smith 1 14 Oct 21, 2017 12:04PM  
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Play Book Tag: Autumn/Smith - 3 stars 12 28 Sep 18, 2017 01:59PM  
  • The Underground Railroad
  • Attrib. and other stories
  • Reservoir 13
  • Elmet
  • The Many
  • Transit
  • The Dark Flood Rises
  • Solar Bones
  • Everything Under
  • The Long Take
  • The Hollow Land
  • At Last
  • When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife
  • The Blazing World
  • On Canaan's Side
  • Falling Awake
  • The Gifts of Reading
  • Hot Milk
Ali Smith is a writer, born in Inverness, Scotland, to working-class parents. She was raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge. She studied at Aberdeen, and then at Cambridge, for a Ph.D. that was never finished. In a 2004 interview with writing magazine Mslexia, she talked briefly about the difficulty of becoming ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a year and how it for ...more

Other books in the series

Seasonal (3 books)
  • Winter
  • Spring
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“She likes to read, she reads all the time, and she prefers to be reading several things at once, she says it gives endless perspective and dimension.” 97 likes
“Always be reading something, he said. Even when we're not physically reading. How else will we read the world? Think of it as a constant.” 68 likes
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