Winter by Ali Smith


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 sinks. But winter makes things visible. And if there's ice, there'll be ...

Details Winter

Release DateNov 2nd, 2017
PublisherHamish Hamilton
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Novels, European Literature, British Literature

Reviews Winter

  • Neil
    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 ...
  • Esil
    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 t...
  • Gumble's Yard
    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, pr...
  • Simon
    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. ‪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 ...
  • Paul Fulcher
    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, comp...
  • Cheri
    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 flow...
  • Wen
    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 Christma...
  • William1.2
    Martin Amis somewhere 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—did not appear until 2008. Ali Smith, however, seems in Winter to be writing about Brexit and T.—may his name forever be anathema—as it happens. Really, barely a month could have passed between the time Lord Soames in...
  • Phrynne
    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...
  • Michael
    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 crisi...
  • Roger Brunyate
    A Winter ThawAutumn, 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 ...
  • Jennifer
    I think this is very, very good and I love it very, very much. Video review coming soon.
  • Maxwell
    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 a...
  • Teresa
    3.5This 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 D...
  • Eric Anderson
    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 civil...
  • 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 oth...
  • BrokenTune
    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 stat...
  • Trish
    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 wi...
  • Bianca
    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). Anyway...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-...
  • Mary
    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.
  • Chrissie
    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 Bre...
  • Peter Boyle
    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 ea...
  • Krista
    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 ...
  • Meike
    “You’re like the dictionary doctor, she said.The what? he says. Kicking the big stone with his foot, she says, to prove that reality is reality and that reality physically exists. I refute it thus.Who? Art says.The literature doctor, she says. The man who wrote the dictionary. Johnson. Not Boris. The opposite of Boris. A man interested in the meanings of words, not one whose interests leave words meaningless.”In Autumn, the first part of he...
  • Robert
    Honestly did you think I would give less than five stars to an Ali Smith book?Winter is the second part of of Smith's seasonal quartet. As always she stuffs a lot of themes so actually reviewing her books are a bit difficult.As the title states, the book takes place during wintertime, A season where things die. The setting of Winter is during the winter solstice and more specifically, Christmastime, which means that the days are dark. As of the b...
  • Trudie
    * 3.5 *I just read back over my thoughts on Autumn to confirm I was indeed more taken with that novel than the subdued admiration I have for Winter . It's not that this is lacking in all the traits of Ali Smith I have come to admire - wry humour, the exuberant love of words, art, literature, sharp political and contemporary observations, slightly unhinged characters.I read the books in this seasonal quartet much like viewing a work of collage,...
  • Vanessa
    I was chomping at the bit to read this book after having really enjoyed the first in Ali Smith's seasonal quarter Autumn, and had planned it out as my first 2018 read. Unfortunately though, this book didn't quite hit me in the same way that its predecessor did, and it didn't meet the extremely high expectations I had for it (based on the plethora of 5 star reviews from booktubers).I think my main issue with this book was that it was a little more...
  • Canadian Reader
    I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this second book in Smith’s seasonal quartet. Her earlier volume in the series, AUTUMN, was rich, allusive, and playful, but the parts didn’t cohere. WINTER is a longer book—even the chapters are lengthier—and the parts mostly work together to make it a more satisfying reading experience. The book centres on a family’s Christmas gathering at a large house in Cornwall. Four characters—two of them: ...
  • Barbara
    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 par...