Winter by Ali Smith


Ali Smith

Ali Smith's shape shifting novel casts a warm, wise, merry and uncompromising eye over a post-truth era.

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Shortlisted for the British Book Award – Fiction Book of the Year and the Orwell Prize for Political Writing

The second novel in the Man Booker Prize–nominated author’s Seasonal cycle; the much-anticipated follow-up to Autumn (a New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Financial Times, The Guardian, Southern Living, and Kirkus Reviews best book of the year).
Winter. Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. And now Art’s mother is seeing things. Come to think of it, Art’s seeing things himself.
When four people, strangers and family, converge on a fifteen-bedroom house in Cornwall for Christmas, will there be enough room for everyone?
Winter. It makes things visible. Ali Smith’s shapeshifting Winter casts a warm, wise, merry and uncompromising eye over a post-truth era in a story rooted in history and memory and with a taproot deep in the evergreens, art and love.

Advance Galley Reviews

Unfortunately, I am not the reader for Winter by Ali Smith. I never quite grasp the characters or the plot; therefore, I never quite care. As a reader, I respond to emotion and conviction in a book. Unfortunately, this book does not elicit that reaction either. So, for me, no real plot and no real emotion come through, and I struggle to the end, still searching for either. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program

I could not get into this book and was unable to finish it. I don't know if it was the topic or the writing, but I just didn't enjoy reading it, although the description of the book sounds like something I would enjoy.

This book wasn’t really for me. Maybe it’s because it was the second in a series? For some reason it just didn’t captivate me and I was unable to finish.

I did not read Autum, the first volume of Ali Smith's seasonal quartet, but I don't think that really mattered in the end. Smith is an extremely good writer. She effortlessly writes compelling sentences. Still, I did not get into Winter. As much as I admired her writing, it always felt like craft--artificial. So as much as I wanted to be swept away by Smith's story, I wasn't.

Thank you, thank you, thank you First to Read for an advanced readers copy of Winter by Ali Smith. Ali Smith’s second novel in her Seasonal Quartet was so great. Perfect for a Christmas read, but really perfect year around. Her writing is so well done. It flows and it’s not the same format as the next author. She really writes from her soul and I really appreciate and like it. The storyline has been done over many time, but Ali Smith told it so different than all the others. I am so looking forward to her next novel.

I read most of Ali Smith’s new Seasonal Quartet entry, Winter, on my flight down to Texas. It turned out to be a great holiday read about sitting down to Christmas dinner with family whom you don’t see eye-to-eye. And of course Smith is also still artfully investigating the generational gaps and ideological biases that lead to Britain’s Brexit vote. For me, living under Trump’s administration in the US, Smith’s quartet has been a balm of sorts for my healthy snowflake outrage. (He said with pride.) Definitely looking forward to Spring and Summer in 2018. And while we’re at it, midterm elections.

This is not my cup of tea. I'm super intrigued by the positive reviews and the author seems talented, but I can't get into it. The writing style with long run-on sentences is not my preference. I may try this again when I am in a different mood. I appreciate the opportunity to read a copy of this.

I could not get into this book. I tried but gave up. It was just not to my liking. Thank you to the First to Read program for giving me an opportunity to read it.

Having not read the 1st book in the series, I may have been left at a disadvantage. I found the book more than a little obtuse, almost like the musings of a paranoid schizophrenic at times. Having said that, there was still something about the story that compels you to read on, hoping to figure it all out. While this doesn't happen, and there are a number of things left unexplained (the floating head, the floating landscape for instance) it was not an unpleasant read. I'm not sure that I could recommend it as a 'stand alone' novel, but in the context of the series it may be a worthy edition.

This is the 2nd book in this series, but I hadn't heard of it before now. It started off very weirdly with an older woman seeing a floating head. I thought it might be a ghost story, but the tone of the story changed a lot as it went along and covered a lot of different ground. It was a strange quilted together book made of vastly different stories and POV, but they were somehow tied together in a decent way. I can't say that I loved this book, but it came together more than I thought it would.

Having never read an Ali Smith book before, I wasn't quite sure what was going on with the opening portions of this book. Would it be a series of stand-alone pieces only? Would they connect? Would they lead yet elsewhere? Despite this uncertainty, I enjoyed the writing of this book from the start. I found myself smiling as I was reading, struck by the humor and clever word usage as well as by the the irreverent tone and unusual scenarios. When things did come together, it became even more enjoyable to read. The ending left me hanging a bit, though, and I look forward to seeing if my desire to know more about some of these characters and their fates is fulfilled in "Spring" or "Summer." I also want to go back and read "Autumn," the first in Smith's seasonal quartet of novels. Those who enjoy quirky reads that require some thought from the reader (like me!) will really dig this book.

So many people seem to love Ali Smith, but unfortunately I'm not one of them. I read Autumn in preparation for reading and reviewing Winter and I just couldn't waste anymore good reading time to finish Winter. I appreciate First to Read for giving me the opportunity to read this, but it just wasn't for me.

Ali Smith is one of my favourite writers and so I was thrilled to receive this advanced copy of Winter. I love her use of language (how it crackles and plays), her disconcerting way of making a character's interior world manifest in the world of the story, and her general wisdom about people, places, and time. Winter offered all of these; however, I do think it's a challenge to write of the moment in the moment. I think it's brave Smith is doing this -- considering we are still reeling from Brexit and Trump's election let alone able to make sense of it yet. But I also feel it leaves the books feeling uncertain and unfinished. Perhaps that is part of writing a series as well. Nevertheless, I look forward to reading the next two installments in this project. Thanks Penguin for the opportunity to read this book.

4 Stars The 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 crisis, and environmental issues. The two main characters, Sophia and her son Art (Arthur), have found narcissistic ways of coping with modern chaos and conflict. The mother, now in her 70s, and possibly on a path to dementia, has withdrawn from all her business and personal entanglements and mainly socializes and communicates with an imaginary friend in the form of a floating head of a child. Art lives his life in a different virtual world, making income from trolling the internet and TV media from copyright infringements and finding self-actualization as a blogger of poetical reflections on invented experiences with nature, which he labels as “Art in Nature”. His girlfriend has just dumped him over his inauthenticity and lack of focus on political issues. Because he has promised his mother to bring his new girlfriend home for Christmas, he stays true to form by opting to hire a woman he has just met to play the role of his girlfriend for the three-day visit to the rambling old estate on England’s southwestern coast. That choice changes everything. The young woman Art brings, an 18-year old named Lux, is very perceptive and pragmatic and sees at once that Sophia is malnourished and in need of serious caretaking. She takes the initiative to invite her estranged sister Iris to join them. They have been out of contact for 30 years due to the conflict between Sophia’s conservatism and Iris’ history of radical political activism against nuclear arms and pollution, and her adoption of a hippie lifestyle, all of which Sophia sees as having contributed to the decline of their parents. Superficially, the jousting and then bonding between sisters makes this a traditional Christmas story of peace and reconciliation. But because with Smith we are in the hands of a maestro of literary play, we get served up for our delight a kaleidoscope of allusions, puzzles, conflations, and time loops. For example, Lux, is supposedly named after the window manufacturer Verilux, but her generous spirit reminds us that her name means light in Latin and that the Madonna is referred to as The Lady of Light. She is from an immigrant family and ignorant of a lot of idiomatic English expressions, yet she is very well educated in literature. She claims to have moved to England from the Canadian site of their settlement due to the brilliance she found in Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline.” I am unfamiliar with the play, but the details provided on its plot makes it sounds like it evolves like a tragedy with lots of family conflict driven murderous greed and jealousy but then ends up as a romance with all the problems resolved. Lux reveals: "I read it and thought, if this writer from this place can make this mad and bitter mess into this graceful thing it is at the end, where the balance comes back and all the lies are revealed and all the losses are compensated, and that’s the place on earth he comes from, that’s the place than made him, then that’s the place I’m going, I’ll go there, I’ll live there." In many ways, this tale makes the reader judge Art badly for his pretense and fakery and then gets you rooting for him as he progresses toward become a better, more engaged human being. It became clear to me that he is pretty much a hybrid between Sophia and his Aunt Iris, who cared for him for a long period in his formative toddler years. He is sensitive to the need for equality among diverse peoples but doesn’t feel it his responsibility to get involved in helping them. He appreciates the beauties of nature and the value of reducing environmental degradation, but again fails to get engaged in their causes. We get to see the influence of Lux in helping him become more authentic and empathetic in his life. Even before meeting Lux, we begin to see his promise. For example, here is his distillation of the meaning of winter: "That’s what winter is: an exercise in remembering how to still yourself and then how to come pliantly back to life again. An exercise in adapting yourself to whatever frozen or molten state it brings you." Here he begins to question the healthiness of living in the online world: "His life online means nothing to those around him. When you look at it like that it’s pretty much like it isn’t really happening. Except it is. So which is the real thing? Is this library not the world? Is that the world, the one on the screen, and this, this sitting bodily with all these other people round him, isn’t?" As for the time loops I mentioned, Sophia leads us on a cycle of memories of notable past Christmases as triggered by church bells ringing in midnight of Christmas eve. The experience is a bit like the sense of being trapped in repetition in the movie “Groundhog Day.” But she does experience a progressive difference. The spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill to men is getting harder to sustain in the face of changes in the world and dissolution of her family: "She wants it to mean again like meaning used to mean. …There is a new meanness in meaning." Maybe the prospect of delving into a woman’s fantasy of a disembodied head as a companion feels like a deal breaker to you in terms of reading this book. I bet most of you could take it in stride. At one point she thinks of it as “her very own Christmas infant”, and in other ways the mute thing is source of joy to her: "In any case, it just wasn’t frightening, the head. It was sweet, and bashful in its ceremoniousness, …Last night, as the head had amused itself by bowling itself down the hall runner at the cabinet to see how many of Godfrey’s eighteenth century English pottery figurines it could topple each time by hitting itself off the legs of it …" By Christmas Eve, despite the head is beginning to lose some of its features, her empathy begins to be engendered in a general way: "Had what happened to it hurt very much? It hurt her to think it. The hurt was surprising in itself. Sophia had been feeling nothing for some time now. Refugees in the sea. Children in ambulances. Blood-soaked men running to hospitals or away from burning hospitals carrying blood-covered children. Dust-covered dead people by the sides of roads. Atrocities. People beaten up and tortured in cells." For her to continue loving something that is becoming faceless is pretty eerie. Her mind makes a connection to the faces of saints and Madonnas being scratched out of many paintings by fanatical vandals during the Reformation: "It was the demonstration that everything symbolic will be revealed as a lie, everything you revere nothing but burnt matter, broken stone, as soon as it meets whatever shape time’s contemporary cudgel takes. But it worked the other way round too. They looked, those vandalized saints and statues, more like statements of survival than of destruction. They were proof of a new state of endurance, mysterious, headless, faceless, anonymous." This is part of Smith’s narrative signature, to link the personal life to the aesthetics expressed in art. As I’ve experienced in three of her other books she works the history of a neglected female artist into this tale. In this case, the art and artist chosen was not so well integrated into the story. Regardless, I loved the artistry of Smith’s diversions and strange trajectory of morphing ideas that emerge as significant themes . Many readers will likely be less appreciative—all a matter of taste and a playful attitude. This book was provided for review by Penguin Random House through its First to Read Program.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Winter by Ali Smith. When I read the synopsis for this book I missed the fact that it was the second book in the series and as much as I tried I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t know if reading the first book in the series would have helped but for me I just couldn’t make it through this one.

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 flower. No, imagine being haunted (if there were such a thing as being haunted, rather than just neurosis or psychosis) by the ghost (if there were such a thing as ghosts, rather than just imagination) of a flower.” “…this isn’t a ghost story, though it’s the dead of winter when it happens, a bright sunny post-millennial global warming Christmas Eve morning (Christ, 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):” Winters can be isolating, leaving one feeling alone and desolate. Depressed. Fearful. Too many hours of darkness. And cold. The landscape appears picked clean, except where it is covered with snow. It is natural, an instinct, perhaps, to be filled with caution when surrounded by a cold, uninviting world, reshaped, reformed, redesigned, perhaps - even if it is the one we’ve found ourselves in before – in one sense or another. Smith brings you into the season where life seems fragile; where you’re looking at a world coated in ice, wrapped up in the ‘fake news’ reports of the day, and seats you at the family dinner table for a Christmas get-together when Smith’s four main characters include a son - Art, his mother- Sophia, his Aunt, Sophia’s sister Iris, and his make-believe / pretend Croatian-Canadian girlfriend, Lux, pretending to be his former girlfriend, Charlotte who broke up with him right before they were due to leave for this delightful holiday with his Mum. The thing about Art is that he lives more or less in his own world, oblivious to the world around him. Art has a blog ‘Art in Nature’ which he writes based on Google searches and stories he writes that are not strictly ‘fact based’ about his nonexistent visits to these spots. He also has a job working for a company researching copyright infringement. When Art and Lux / Charlotte arrive, Lux, whose very name speaks of illumination, she attempts to lighten Sophia’s life, health, and emotions, and Sophia responds by sharing more of herself, her stories, with Lux than she has with Art. As Lux sees Sophia in “not-thriving” condition, she convinces Art that they should call Iris, Sophia’s sister. The sisters had a very contentious relationship in the past, but Lux is hopeful that Iris will help her sister. The four of them, not unlike the four seasons of the year, each unique and unlike the other, connected by some tenuous thread that binds them together in this moment in time. Tying this to Smith’s Autumn are some of the political issues from the past and present time, also from Autumn there are some direct connections, some easily seen, others are slightly more hidden. An artist that was a significant point of discussion in Autumn is referenced, and another female artist features somewhat in Winter. A postcard / picture referenced. There are also some historically relevant social causes discussed, comparing the past to the present. Brexit, Trump, the unavoidable topics if you’re basing a story in this time and place. I really loved Ali Smith’s Autumn, and I was hoping that I would have similar feelings to those I’d had with Autumn when it came time to read Winter. I was not disappointed. ”God help us, every one.” US Pub Date: 9 Jan 2018 Many thanks for the ARC provided by First-to-Read

I loved the tone of this book. It's thoughtful and philosophical but also absurdist and farcical and beautifully captures the crazy relationships that underpin all of our lives. It tells the story of Sophia, an elderly woman and her son, Art as they prepare to spend Christmas together. As you would expect from Ali Smith, the prose is exquisite and the narrative flows with such ease that before you know it, you've finished the book. The nuances of the relationships here are pitch perfect, as is the ability of a complete stranger to understand more about your relatives than you do. There are some very timely discussions about Brexit, the refugee crisis, the plastic problem and Donald Trump along with some gorgeous ruminations on nature, what it means to be human and the wonder of Shakespeare. This is a fantastic book and anyone who has ever had a painfully awkward Christmas dinner should read it. I received a free copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I absolutely adored this book. Autumn was my first exposure to Ali Smith, and will admit it took me a while to get used to her writing style. Therefore I was expecting it for Winter, knowing this was the second book in the four part series, and I liked this book even more than the first. It did take a minute to figure out what was going on, but Ali tends to go from past to present and once I grasped that as well as who the characters were, I was good. The interaction between the sisters, Art, and Lux was wonderful, and quite funny. (I mean really, who has a fight with their gf and then hires someone to stand in as their gf when they travel to see their mom for the holidays? Rolling.) I also loved the tie in to the current political and economic state. I do recognize this might not be for everyone, but man, if it is for you then I you will love it. I definitely will be buying a hard copy of this for myself and others when it is published, and I highly recommend! Thank you to Penguin Random House for the advanced copy!

I just couldn't finish this one. I read reviews, I was excited to read it but ultimately threw in the towel. Couldn't connect on any level.

A family reunites on Christmas, though the tension between sisters and the fake girlfriend a son has brought home is front and center on the holiday celebration. This book goes everywhere--much of it has little to do with the family itself, more of what the family thinks and says about the history of the world, the history of themselves, and the current economic and political climate (the last couple pages in particular, that didn't seem to have anything to do with the book other than a very thin link to Christmas). While the careful word choice of this book is something to be admired, the substance just wasn't there for me. From other reviews I've read I believe I haven't missed anything by not reading Autumn first, but had it been anything like this one, I would have never decided to pick up Winter. It just wasn't something that spoke to me in any particular fashion.

I had heard great things about Ali Smith and really wanted to enjoy this book. However, the author's writing was not for me. Style and language obscured character and plot, and I found myself incapable of reading more than the first thirty-eight pages. I'm sure that this book will find lots of fans in readers who prefer literature on the metafiction or intellectual side. It just didn't emotionally resonate for me.

Thank you, Penguin Random House, for the advance copy. After the critical acclaim of "Autumn", I was looking forward to reading "Winter". I've come to realize that Ali Smith's style, despite it's popularity, is just not for me. I liked this, but found it to be a book that was burdensome for me to return to. I would recommend it to someone who has enjoyed previous books by this author, or perhaps someone looking for a new literary style, as this is definitely unique. Not a bad book by any means, just not one that spoke to me.

Thanks for the ARC! I was very interested to read this, but like some of the other reviewers, was unable to progress past the first chapter. I just couldn't get into the writing style.

I loved Autumn so I was really excited about this one. It did not disappoint. I adore Smith’s playful prose layered with sharp political and social observations. Can’t wait for the next of this series!

I have to apologize to the author. I didn’t read the description carefully enough before I requested this novel, and I’m afraid it’s just not the kind of book I enjoy. It begins with a floating disembodied head. I couldn’t catch the drift. No doubt there are many other readers who loved it. Indeed I am delighted to see so many glowing reviews. I wish the author another wonderful success.

I read Winter by Ali Smith with no expectations since it was my first exposure to her work. I only knew she was a well established author with a good reputation. She certainly lived up to her reputation with Winter. What a wonderfully written novel. The writing style and tone is amazing at all levels, from the sentence level on up. It is just a pleasure to read writing this good. The story is about so many things, from the current political climate in London, to aging, to reconciliation of estranged siblings, to mother son relationships. There were a number of threads, but they all pulled together to weave a magical, dream like story. A very enjoyable reading experience that I would recommend to anyone.

I think this book was really beautiful. At the same time, I'm not entirely sure what exactly happened. Half the time it felt like being in a dream, full of twists and turns with a definite through the looking glass feel. There is a definite sense of unreality about it. I'm not sure if it would feel less like that if I had read Autumn, its precursor, so I guess I'll just have to read it to find out. And I think this is also the sort of book that must be reread to fully understand and to grasp everything that the author is saying here. Do I think it worth reading? Yes. Do I think it a book for everyone? No. Would I read it again? Will I read Autumn? Yes to both.

Autumn was my first Ali Smith read. When I had the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of the second in her quartet, Winter, I jumped on it. Smith does it again. She draws you into a story and takes you back and forth through the past and present of a family. In doing this you are allowed to see what made them who they are and why they are at the place they are in the present. It is wintertime, cold and dreary. Dark days surround the story with Brexit and Donald Trump hovering in the present time. Sisters Sophie and Iris are reunited on Christmas Day. Sophie's son Art is visiting with his girlfriend who really isn't his girlfriend but a girl he has hired to pretend to be his girlfriend Lux. Lux comes in and has just the right magic to pull this family together. So beautifully written. Cannot wait for the Spring.

This is the second book I’ve read by AliSmith. It is also the book that has prompted me to list Ms. Smith as one of my favorite authors. Her work is magical and poetic, not just another novel. In this, the second in her Seasonal series, she totally captures the essence of winter — the bleakness, the darkness, the bitter cold. At the same time, the baroness of the trees make more things visible. The book also feels hopeful at times — full of joy and happiness and the promise of things to come. I can’t wait for Spring to come!

I like the book easy to follow, you should have some knowledge abut Brexit to understand the writer point of view. Fun, but with plenty of well-observed criticism of the state of the world and the mess we're making of it, Britain in particular.

Winter is the story of a group of people all muddling through life, which is like all of us, really. Every character is flawed but also likable, or at least--their motivations are understandable even if you don't agree with them. I love the way it jumps around in time--the flashbacks never feel contrived; they work the way memory works, with a current moment reminding you of a past one so strongly it's like you're living it again, and then it ends and you're back in the present. And best of all, the writing in this book is gorgeous and poetic, full of lush descriptions that never feel extraneous but only another way of bringing you into the story. I loved it so much that I need to go read Autumn, and I'll be looking forward to Spring and Summer.

I tried repeatedly to read this book but could not get into it. The list in the intro alone tired me. The first 50 pages were wearying. Yes, that is like winter, I guess, but not enough to keep me reading the book. I had been very curious about the book and the author, so many thanks for the opportunity.

Ali Smith is a poet, an artist who makes word-stringing look easy. The opening of this novel was a bit jarring, and I couldn't tell what I had gotten myself into, what was going on, what point there could possibly be. But the storyline settled itself into a tale, jumping back and forth between Christmas present, the ghosts of Christmas past, and the harshness of the near future, now the recent past, the mess we're living in. The characters are messy, maybe pitiable, maybe likable, maybe neither. There are holes in the past, hurts that get partially but not completely filled in. There is no completeness here at all, and yet it was somehow a satisfying story, or slice of a story. I found myself wishing I had an Iris around every once in a while -- not too much, because she would be unbearable, but in small doses she's delightful. It's just one of those books I finish and then I'm ready for the next offering the author has. I want to hear more of what Ali Smith has to say. I need to go back now since I missed Autumn, and as I look around, very few others here missed it. Anyway, just read it for a slice of beauty. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

An unusual book, for sure, but I think that’s because I don’t normally read this genre or style of writing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish this one in its entirety, but I think that’s because I couldn’t understand the symbolism well enough to truly appreciate its significance. Therefore, I don’t believe I am the right person to judge this book the way it deserves to be reviewed. I definitely see this book appealing to other people I know, though, and I must say that the author did write this book with great attention to detail, care, and thoughtfulness.

This writer's style is not for me. I'm not even going to try to figure out what's going on with the floating baby head. I abandoned the book quickly. I received a free copy of the book from the publisher.

This is my first Ali Smith book and it really fell flat for me. I did like her writing and was glad to keep reading, but was so disappointed when I finished. Yes there is a great deal of symbolism and I get that. However, the characters were all unrelatable; and i am really not sure what the head was suppose to symbolize. I had not read the previous book August so perhaps that made a difference.

This book captures the starkness and isolation of winter in this sort of related Christmas tale. Set in England, Art travels to his mother's home with a substitute girlfriend for the holidays. Subsequently dysfunctional familial relationships are explored. This seems like one of those books that critics love because of the literary run-on sentences which I personally find tedious. Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for the free copy of this book.

I must admit that I became quite fond of the floating head. It led me to ponder what it would be like to have such a thing accompanying you in your home. This book is presented in an unusual style similar to stream of consciousness writing. Once I acclimated to it, I found it interesting to read. The internal conversations led the reader through some fascinating turns, that were at once unbelievable yet totally understandable. I enjoyed some of the recurring themes, such as songs. Christmas songs were often mentioned, including nods to my favorite, In the Bleak Midwinter. The frequent references to wordplay were interesting, such as the historical use of the word today. The characters seemed to suffer from longing and angst, as well as a good bit of loneliness compounded by the pressure of the holiday season. I'm not sure that the book's description I option captures the mood and breadth of the book. Although the book dragged a bit, I found it to be an interesting read in a unique style.

The description is very misleading. I wasn't at all expecting a book with a floating head. Not sure at all what the author's point was. But I also couldn't make it past 20 pages. Far too many other books next to my bed to read. Next!

After a week of trying I had to stop. A very hard book to read. I'm all for setting a scene and being descriptive but there was just too much of that and no real story. It may get better farther in, but there was nothing in the beginning to keep me going.

Unfortunately, I could not finish this book. Perhaps it gets better deeper into the book but the floating head at the start was disturbing to me. I was also frustrated with the long run-on sentences that had me gasping for breath and unsure about the point of the sentence. I skipped over several pages at a time since the words seemed pointless. Unfortunately, the long sentences and lack of punctuation was sometimes confusing in trying to decide who was saying what. Not my cup of tea

Maybe this book would be more suited to someone who is an avid reader of poetry. As a novel it's difficult to read, the writing runs together almost rambling like a confused monologue. I really didn't understand the point of the disembodied head that was floating around. It was just not for me at all.

Well, I am not sure what to say about this book because as I got as far as page 50 and can honestly say I have no idea what the author is trying to convey. I tried to explain to someone what the book was about and all I could come up with was it seemed the author was on drugs when she wrote this. After getting through the first 50 pages, I set it down and tried several times to pick it up and continue reading and I just could not. I've always had a rule that I will give a book 100 pages before making a decision to continue or not, but I broke that rule with this book. The sentences ran on without any or very little punctuation and the conversation switched from one character to another without any indication as to who was speaking. I felt so confused. I read 1 or 2 books a week and this has to be one of the worst I have tried to read. Maybe this author's style suits some, but it didn't work for me.

This was not my type of reading. I tried to keep reading it but the use of an object as a person was too difficult for me.

Ali Smith's "Winter" is not an easy book to dive into, but if you let yourself simply fall in it becomes an enjoyable read. With prose that reads like poetry and an almost stream of consciousness storytelling, the reader is introduced to characters, locations, and historical events that are described with genuine care and love by the author. Underlying everything are the awkward and factious undercurrents of relationships between sisters, lovers, and strangers looking to connect and make a difference in their worlds. I enjoyed reading about Art, Sophia, Iris, and Lux; their character development, actions, and interactions are a strength in the story. However, I was confused by the floating heads that were described with such detail in the beginning and then were not mentioned again. Perhaps there is a symbolism for the floating head that was lost on me, maybe an allusion to some other work of literature. The ending was rather unsatisfying as a result, leaving me with several questions, including what happened to those heads? Also, I expected a more connected ending, especially since some time was dedicated to describing the Shakespeare play Cymbeline. Smith also weaves political and social commentary throughout her story, which is not a turn off but I felt stole attention away from the character relationships which are the novel's strength. In all, I felt "Winter" is a unique story that began more powerfully than it ended.

I love anything to do with winter so the title intrigued me. I am very fond of dystopian or post apocalyptic fiction. This is not that kind of book. I struggled for about 50% of the book and did something I rarely do...I did not finish. The story was just too convoluted and bizarre for me. Frenetic and shifting story line had me dizzy. Without a doubt there are fans of this type of writing but this old grandmother was unable to keep up with the characters. Thanks for the opportunity to try a new genre for me but I think I will pass.

24 pages in and I had to stop. After 3 pages I wanted to call it quits but thought to myself hey give it more time you haven't given it a decent chance. By page 10 it was only getting worse and by page 20 I knew this wasn't worth my time. There were no breaks for when someone was speaking, so no quotation marks (what?!?!). Every time someone spoke it was she says, he says, Sophia says. Says, says, says, says, says. There was no uniqueness, no flow, no differentials. There was no inkling to any back story; it just threw you in with a floating head, literally. I need a bit more back story than it started as a blob and suddenly started to grow and now there is a floating child's head, that apparently only Sophia can see. The first two pages were this is dead, that is dead, all of these things: dead. Was 2 pages really necessary to get that across? Because I'm wondering if proper writing is dead. There were rampant contractions. Sophia'd, they'd, Arthur'd, she'll, they'll. I will not waste my time on lazy writing. It takes 2 seconds more to write out both words. Using contractions in a quote is one thing but these were just plain lazy. I get that these first to read books are still not quite finished but as a previously published writer they should know better and these simple mistakes should not have been made or, at the very least, been so frequent.


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