Autumn: A Novel by Ali Smith

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Two old friends—Daniel, a centenarian, and Elisabeth, born in 1984—look to both the future and the past as the United Kingdom stands 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. A luminous meditation on the meaning of richness and harvest and worth, Autumn is the first installment of Ali Smith’s Seasonal quartet, and it casts an eye over our own time: Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art. Wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, Autumn is an unforgettable story about aging and time and love—and stories themselves.

Yes, it might seem strange to be reading a book titled “Autumn” in the summer, but hear me out. Written by one of the U.K.'s most esteemed writers, Ali Smith, Autumn touches on the themes of friendship and surprising encounters that lead to powerful personal connections. The book looks at the unlikely bond between two people who couldn't be more different: Daniel, an old man on the brink of death, and Elisabeth, an arts lecturer in her thirties who's increasingly disillusioned by the world in which she lives. Smith dissects their relationship against the backdrop of Britain's Brexit summer in 2016 and the European refugee crisis, but the heavy themes are balanced by her smooth and flowy prose. The first of a quartet, Autumn is followed by Winter and Spring, with Summer set to be published this upcoming August. It’s the perfect book to read on a summer day, when you prefer to just stay indoors and reflect on all the people whose lives have had a huge impact on you, while basking in the sun's warm glow.

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