Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Autumn by Ali Smith

Anchor, 288 pages, $15.95 (c2017)

“Autumn” is not a mystery, but it is a helluva book. A young woman, Elisabeth — with an “s” — and a much older man, Daniel, have a friendship that began when he was her next-door neighbor and de facto mentor. Daniel is close to dying when “Autumn” begins, although the story travels backwards in time as well to gradually fill in certain holes.

One of the most moving moments is when Daniel imagines himself locked in a tree. It is cozy and life-affirming, contrary to what one might expect. Elisabeth contends with a chaotic life, including a bureaucratic run-in with the British post office, but finds moments of stillness with Daniel, as she waits with him for his journey’s end.

The writing is everything. The crossing of lives and how connections are made are potently important to Elisabeth and Daniel.

And so the story drifts but not without meaning or intention. Lovely.

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