Summer

Clair Wills writes:

M others​ have a hard time in Ali Smith’s novels. I mean that Smith gives them a hard time, as well as acknowledging the hard time they’ve had already, just getting this far, in one piece. In Summer, the final novel of Smith’s seasons quartet, the harried mother is Grace. Grace gets good marks from the novel’s thirtysomethings for her resolve to live on easy terms with her ex-husband (‘next door dad’), who lives – next door – with his much younger girlfriend. But in other ways (and possibly in that way too) she is a caricature of her generation. She says things like ‘when I was young and foolish’, ‘you young people’, ‘what is cancel culture?’ She endlessly harks back to her feminist heyday in the 1980s, when she was an actor; she refers to herself as ‘so menopausal’ when her memory fails her; she talks in slogans, particularly about Brexit: ‘All over now. Done and dusted … dawn of a new era.’ She voted Leave.

(LRB 08 Oct 2020)

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