Summer by Ali Smith
In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world’s in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.
This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?
That day in October 2016 when there was a thud on my doormat as the postman delivered Autumn by Ali Smith in what was the first instalment of the seasonal quartet. Fast forward four years and the final book has just been released this month. Summer (Hamish Hamilton) really is a magnificent finale.
Since Autumn was released in 2016 the world has gone through a seismic shift with Trump in the Whitehouse, the Brexit vote, refugees, the enviroment and elections in the UK now with Boris Johnson in Number 10 and the Coronavirus pandemic. The world is in trouble. What Ali Smith has achieved in Autumn, Winter, Spring and now Summer is staggering, writing at breakneck speed to take into account our troubled world and in each of the novels troubled characters to match.
There are characters that we have met previously as much as each book is a separate storyline each of the seasonal books are linked via the characters that appear. In Summer we meet the Greenlaw family the siblings are clever but they are split by politics and their mother Grace and the father who left have separated but despite the politics the siblings are close. A family trying to get to grips with who they really are. But there is another brother and sister from Summer’s past and they face a real threat to their lives.
The one aspect of Summer is how Ali Smith has managed to bring the current news agenda into a book that has just hit the bookshelves there is the real shock of Corvid-19 and how it has affected the world and even the death of George Floyd gets into the story. Summer flits between time frames and yet is the most current corvid novel of our times.
We are at an end now of the quartet by Ali Smith but I have a feeling that in the years that lie ahead new readers will discover the four seasons and debate about these current times.
Summer by Ali Smith was published by Hamish Hamilton on 6th August 2020 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.