For a novel about Spring, there was rather a lot of Autumn in Ali Smith’s Spring. But I like a good October as well as the next witch. And I obviously failed to read it while it was still Spring, although some people regard June as still not Summer.

As with Autumn and Winter, this is a very different and very entertaining novel. I suspect I didn’t understand it quite so well, however, but understanding isn’t everything. Feel fairly confident about who is connected to whom, and have great hopes for the next book.

Partly set in a detention centre for refugees, where they are treated as just about worse than criminals, it’s a shocking aspect of life in the UK as it is today.

It’s also a story about Katherine Mansfield and Rainer Maria Rilke, as well as about Charlie Chaplin. It’s about the power of television films on subjects like Beethoven, or Andy Hoffnung as it was called. And if you didn’t know how to pronounce Kingussie, then here is your chance to learn. (The disturbing thing is I know what I was doing that day in October 2018 when the film producer waits for a train. A train anywhere, really. Away from Kingussie.)

The reassuring thing is that there are people in this book who want to do the right thing, and who do it. And because of coincidence it matched up with something I saw a link to on Facebook… It felt like it was meant.

Reading Ali Smith makes me feel a bit intelligent. Not very, but some. Enough.

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