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(Seasonal #2)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  5,367 ratings  ·  913 reviews
The dazzling second novel in Ali Smith's essential Seasonal Quartet — from the Baileys Prize-winning, Man Booker-shortlisted author of Autumn and How to be both.

Winter? Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. The shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The summer's leaves? Dead litter.

The world shrinks; the sap
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published November 2nd 2017 by Hamish Hamilton
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Val There are some connections with "Autumn", but they are not really important ones. There are two characters who appear in both books, but one is minor…moreThere are some connections with "Autumn", but they are not really important ones. There are two characters who appear in both books, but one is minor in "Autumn" and the other minor in "Winter". There are also thematic links about art and generation gaps, but those can work alone in either book. (less)

Community Reviews

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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,367 ratings  ·  913 reviews

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Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, 5-stars
Ok, so I am biased and it may be that Ali Smith gets an extra star simply for being Ali Smith. But, even then, when you stop to consider what Smith has done in this second book of her seasonal quartet, it is breathtaking! Ali Smith has her own unique style. Given her very obvious love for Dickens and all things Dickensian, I wanted to say her style is Smithsonian, but someone else has already appropriated that word. No one writes like Smith with such joy in words.

At the Man Booker short list eve
You're reading the book about the leaves again!

It's not the same book. Same cover image, different season.

So no leaves floating about in this one?

No leaves. But lots of floaters.

Like eye floaters?

Those - and others.

You do like your enigmas!

Plastic floating across the oceans is no allusive enigma - it's very real.

Oh right, serious floaters. I won't make the joke that was..

Or floaters as in people with no fixed place to sleep.

And this book is called Winter? Brrr...

Or chemicals floating about in t
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Winter is the second book I’ve read by Ali Smith (Public Library and Other Stories was the first one). Both times I had to recalibrate my brain according to the following rules in order to enjoy the reading experience:

-Slow down – the book is short but you can’t speed through it.
-Give in to the lack of linearity – allow yourself to float and flit in time.
-Open up to the impressionistic feel of the story and language – working too hard to understand what’s happening seems to defeat the point.

Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve so many thoughts I can’t quite sum up the brilliance of Ali Smith’s Winter other than by saying it’s blown me away. It’s like a great conversation that makes you think all the thoughts. I’ve loved it. I’ll review properly when my brain stops fizzing from the immediacy of reading it. ...more
Gumble's Yard
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
This isn’t a ghost story, though it’s the dead of winter when it happens, a bright sunny post-millennial global-warming Christmas (Christmas, too, dead) and it’s about real things really happening in the real world involving real people in real time on the real earth (uh huh, earth, also dead)

And here’s another version of what was happening that morning, as if from a novel in which Sophia is the kind of character she’d choose to be, prefer to be, a character in a much more classic sort of stor
Violet wells
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite enjoyed this though for me it lacked the urgency, inspiration and poetry of Autumn. At times it read like an inferior version of the same novel. Perhaps though my bad for reading this immediately after finishing Autumn. I've got a feeling a six month time lapse would have helped me enjoy it more.

Centrepiece of the novel is a Christmas lunch. I certainly identified with the presentation of Christmas as a time when all family conflicts are unwrapped along with the presents. As in Autumn the
Paul Fulcher
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
OK I surrender. Upgraded to 5 stars as Ali Smith has made complete fools of us all, myself included.

Everyone spent so long looking for micro-links between the two novels, no-one (at least not in any review on GR as at 9 November 2017) had spotted (other than as the merest teasing hint) the glaring and very explicit link between the two books - the Daniel-Sophie tryst in Paris that is in the first pages of Autumn and the last pages of Winter, complete with dates and details.

The more mundane truth
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21-ce, fiction, uk
Martin Amis said that there seems to be a requisite period of time before one can write about historical events, especially catastrophes. He was referring to 9-11 and his first publication about it—The Second Plane—which did not appear until 2008. Ali Smith, however, in Winter, seems to be writing about Brexit and T.—may his name remain anathema—as it happens. Barely a month could have passed between the time Lord Soames in the House of Commons wolf whistled at a rather attractive female member ...more
4.5 Stars

”God was dead: to begin with.
“And romance was dead. Chivalry was dead. Poetry, the novel, painting, they were all dead, and art was dead. Theatre and cinema were both dead. Literature was dead. The book was dead.”
“Love was dead.
Death was dead.
A great many things were dead.
Some, though, weren’t, or weren’t dead yet.”

“Imagine being haunted by the ghosts of all these dead things. Imagine being haunted by the ghost of a flower. No, imagine being haunted (if there were such a thing as being
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ali Smith once again smitten me with the second installment of her Seasonal Quartet Winter, and left me in awe . It will be among my top Christmas book recommendations going forward. (Well, I didn't get to read it until the U.S release after the new year.)
The book was all about Christmas: visiting family, guests, lights, snow, loads of food, holly, Christmas tree, … but none of these reminded me of a traditional picture-perfect white Christmas.
Art was visiting his aging mother Sophia, who wa
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has taken me a while to get round to this one - although its predecessor Autumn was one of my favourite books on last year's Booker list, I had too much else to read when this one was released in hardback. The new paperback made this an ideal time to catch up.

If anything, it is even better than Autumn, just as topical but with a tighter plot. I will start with a quote that for me could equally apply to Ali Smith herself:
"I think you could maybe talk about anything, he says. There's nothing yo
Dec 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 4000-books
This is a very well written book. It is thought provoking, intelligent and intriguing as would be expected of a book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Sadly though much of it went over my head and as a result I was unable to appreciate it as much as many other people do.

Many of the characters like Lux and Sophia were interesting but they were not fully formed. The author floated a fact here and a bit of history there and I was never satisfied with the amount of information I got. Plus things
Dec 12, 2017 rated it liked it

This Ali Smith novel, the second of a seasonal quartet, may go down as my least favorite of hers, though being Ali Smith that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it and that I’m not looking forward to Spring, and ultimately, Summer. I envision appreciating it more if I reread it once the series is completed.

Perhaps Winter suffers in comparison to Autumn for me because there is no rendering of a lively, enticing (real) personage, such as Pauline Doty; though Barbara Hepworth and her art are used as a s
Roger Brunyate
A Winter Thaw

Autumn, the first volume in Ali Smith's tetralogy-in-progress, was #2 on my Top Ten list for 2017. At first, reading Winter, its successor (how fast she writes!), I was pretty sure that it would not reach a similar standard; it seemed haphazard and jokey, strung-together rather than composed. And yet my sadness at coming to its end makes me think again. If this is the scherzo of a four-movement symphony, it is one of those movements where the playfulness feeds into a lovely long tun
This entry by Smith puts a quirky dysfunctional family into a tale of stock-taking and personal evolution in the context of a holiday gathering in Cornwall at Christmas. It has a bit of the comic flavor of the Thanksgiving movie “Home for the Holidays” complemented by a lot of internal monologue, flashbacks, and fantasies, all played out against the sobering background of a society polarized by Brexit, populist isolationism, the refugee crisis, and environmental issues.

The two main characters,
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, kindle
Sadly I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I have with previous Ali Smith books. I'm not sure if I'm finding her writing style is losing its luster for me or if this was just not a story for me. I found myself at quite a distance from the characters, and because this is so dialogue heavy and reliant on this 3rd person telling you what is happening, it doesn't leave much for the reader to figure out. There are lots of layers here about art and politics and relationships, as in most Smith no ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think this is very, very good and I love it very, very much. Video review coming soon.
Eric Anderson
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Continuing on in her ambitious season-inspired chronicle of our times, Ali Smith opens “Winter” with the statement “God was dead: to begin with.” She continues on ringing the death bell for everything from modern day conveniences to systems of government to states of being. These pronouncements act like a wry commentary on the uncertainty many people now feel as citizens in a precarious world despite all the apparent advancements of civilization and culture. It’s also a clever play on the openin ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book more and more the more I read of it. In the beginning it was quite confusing but the more it advanced the more a cohese story developed. A story of 4 people on the christmas days in a large House in Cornwall. A normal setting with each person having his/her frustations or desires. But it's the way in which they act and speak that has his oddities. But it all felt quite natural. And I loved it. Looking forward to the next season.
Ali Smith wrote this book fast, and I think that is how she intends us to read it, at least at first. We slow down when her images and meanings start to coalesce on the page and we suspect there is much more to this than the twitter-like, depthless sentences that don’t seem like they are adding up to anything. Afterwards, an image emerges. What is more suited to tweeting than a Canada warbler?

The story, as such, is that a young man breaks up with his girlfriend Charlotte right before a Christmas
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
God was dead: to begin with.
And romance was dead. Chivalry was dead. Poetry, the novel, painting, they were all dead, and art was dead. Theatre and cinema were both dead. Literature was dead. The book was dead. Modernism, postmodernism, realism and surrealism were all dead. Jazz was dead, pop music, disco, rap, classical music, dead. Culture was dead. Decency, society, family values were dead. The past was dead. History was dead. The welfare state was dead. Politics was dead. Democracy was dead.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is not my full review, having only just finished and then reread Paul's review where he is able to show that there is a direct connection between Winter and Autumn.

What I think I love about Ali Smith, particularly in this book, is how easily she is able to show the complexity of a human, and even moreso a group of humans. How much their history matters, both individual and with each other. How they don't always say what they mean but the others see through it. How grumping between two peopl
I noticed this one on Audible, so I purchased it, despite having wished for it on NetGalley (but who knows if and when I'll hear back from the publishers).


Winter is the second offering in the SeasonS quartet. As it was the case with Autumn, it's quite interesting, very contemporary and a bit confusing at times.
(I'm not 100% sure I understood the symbolism, especially when it came to a child's detached head seen by sixty-something-year-old, Sophia. Was it mental illness, loneliness, de
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scotland, 2018
But we were wounded, I was wounded, all the same. And I love my family, I love them, but when I'm with them, my wounds reopen. So I can't live with them. I can't be with them. So I came here.
Notes to myself on reading a book by Ali Smith.
1, Do not ever think you will 'get' everything first time around.
2, Let the book take you along for the ride, you are a passenger. Allow yourself to be swept along.
3, Remember as Kurt Vonnegut said in Slaughterhouse five, time is not linear and all things exist, past, present and future at the same time.
4, Be prepared to be dumbfounded by word play.
5, Enjoy the unique, the surreal, the characters.

I have no clue how to write about this one, in any w
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
An adult son returns home to visit his mother for Christmas. Winter is a clever, elusive and moving novel about family and relationships where nothing is quite what it seems. Smith's language is so vivid that images materialized in front of me as I was reading.

I'm looking forward to Spring!
I started with Autumn and have now followed up with Winter, the second in Ali Smith's planned seasonal quartet. Each volume is scheduled to come out a bit before the respective season over 2017 and 2018.

The similarities between the two are strikingly evident. The writing style is identical. Both employ an imaginative use of wordplay, puns and songs. Flashbacks abound. Reference to current political and social issues are prominent in both. The Brexit vote in the first, the Grenfell Tower fire in
Peter Boyle
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Another Ali Smith novel, another three star rating for me. And the reason is this: for all the wit and ingenuity I admire in her fiction, it never truly moves me. Her work appeals to my head more than my heart.

So this the second instalment of Smith's Seasonal Quartet. Winter: a time to pause and take stock of things. Now in her sixties, Sophia Cleves lives alone in a cavernous Cornwall mansion. All is not entirely well with her - she is barely eating or sleeping and lately she has been seeing vi
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
That’s what winter is: an exercise in remembering how to still yourself then how to come pliantly back to life again. An exercise in adapting yourself to whatever frozen or molten state it brings you.

Ah, this is exactly what I warned about in my gushing review of Autumn, a book that spoke to me deeply and particularly: Winter is quite a good book, Ali Smith explores many of the same issues in the same ways as she did in her earlier volume in the Seasonal Series, but without a direct connectio
I love Ali Smith, or perhaps the idea of Ali Smith, and the concept of her seasonal quartet which began with Autumn. I was helped by other reviewers to understand the references to Elvis and a pair of obscure Swedish singers. Other reviews have commented on the word play and the surreal or what some might call “magical realism” in the novel. A reader can enjoy reading (though that doesn’t seem the right word when describing reading this particular novel) Winter for these elements. Others may hav ...more
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Play Book Tag: [Trim] Winter - Ali Smith 4/5 5 17 Jan 07, 2019 09:20AM  
Play Book Tag: Winter - Ali Smith - 4 stars 12 31 Jan 18, 2018 06:55AM  
  • Kudos
  • Voor het vergeten
  • Robinson
  • Únava materiálu
  • Attrib. and other stories
  • The Face: Cartography of the Void
  • A Line Made by Walking
  • To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface
  • English Animals
  • Foreign Parts
  • Shake Off
  • Fog Island Mountains
  • No More
  • Worlds from the Word's End
  • Deep in the Shade of Paradise
  • Notes on Camp
  • The Reservoir Tapes
  • The Gifts of Reading
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)
  • Autumn
  • Spring
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“That’s what winter is: an exercise in remembering how to still yourself then how to come pliantly back to life again.” 18 likes
“That's one of the things stories and books can do, they can make more than one time possible at once.” 12 likes
More quotes…