Review: Winter

5 stars

The much anticipated sequel to Smith’s bestselling Autumn – labelled the first post-Brexit novel, certainly lives up to its predecessor, building on its themes and ideas but achieving a beautiful and cohesive novel in its own right.

Departing from the characters of Autumn we are introduced to Art and his mother Sophia. Both are trying to navigate the holiday season and through their actions we end up witnessing everyone’s worst nightmare of Christmas dinner – with unwanted family members, politics and disagreements rife around the table. Taking inspiration from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the book beautifully flits through the past, present and futures of the characters, though whether these are real imagined or perceived is up for debate, as the novel constantly explore what the concept of truth is and means.

While the politics involved in the first novel of the quartet was largely humanitarian in nature – concerned with the refugee crisis, Winter arguably packs more of a political punch, with overt scenes and excerpts which directly criticise and satirise the current American administration, and the behaviours of British politicians in the House of Commons. While sections such as these don’t directly relate to the central narrative they set important context for the world in which Art’s family is living. The tale is so wide-ranging and covers so many different themes and ideas, from the relationship between ‘art’ (as well as Art) and nature, truth and social media, mental illness, the concept of home and belonging, and identity. It is a novel that can be revisited many times over, be read differently and unpicked in different ways every time, particularly when the sequels emerge and possibly change it ever further.