Mark Patton's Reviews > How to be both

How to be both by Ali Smith
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's review
Dec 22, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: new-releases

The first thing to say is that I loved this book. What to say next is more difficult – it is, as others have commented, difficult to review it without spoiling the plot. There are two intertwined storylines, one focussed on a teenage girl living in the present day, the other on the 15th Century artist, Francesco del Cossa. The two stories can be read in either order, and, it is said by some, the experience of reading it differs fundamentally according to which story one reads first. I started with Francesco’s story, and was in no way disappointed. Several commentators have said that the second story they read (whichever that may be) did not seem equal to the first, but I did not find this to be the case: I was enthralled by both, and enthralled, especially, by the intersections between the two stories, by the way in which the past and the present are made relevant to one another, by the dazzling ways in which language is used to link the two. This, for me, was the book of the year, but I can do no more than recommend that you read it for yourself.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 15, 2014 – Finished Reading
December 22, 2014 – Shelved
December 22, 2014 – Shelved as: new-releases

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