My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The third novel in the Seasonal Quartet feels just as experimental as the first two in its style, and once again forms a completely separate novel to the previous two installments, with characters that first of all seem unconnected, but whose paths will inevitably cross.
Richard is a film director; his screenwriter, and lover, Patricia (Paddy) has recently died, but her twin sons won't let him speak at the funeral, plus he's received a script for an uncoming project that is dreadful.
Brit is a warden at, what appears to be a detention centre, and she ends up striking up a friendship with Florence, a twelve-year-old girl who apparently wandered into the facility where Brit works unchallenged.
Like the previous books in the series, the plot isn't exactly linear, and when reading it I noticed that it seemed to jump around in the timeline more than the first two instalments, with flashbacks and even flashforwards that came along unexpectedly, and some scenes were even told from two different points of view.
I noticed all of the usual social commentary; this book seemed to have a lot about race, and in particular the treatment of refugees, and idea that certain people are treated as though they are invisible; the Windrush scandal was mentioned. The book also mentioned the Grenfell tower tragedy, Brexit (a common theme in this series), homelessness, the metoo movement, and even closure of public libraries. It also appeared that mental health issues were addressed too, with one of the characters (as I understood it) attempting suicide at one point.
I wasn't expecting this to be an easy to digest book, but I found myself more engaged with the characters than in the previous two books in this series, and I definitely want to read the final book, to see if Ali Smith used it to return to any of her previous storylines.
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