Variations on a theme. I listened to this audiobook during a day of chores, including walking the dog, and with a lot of novels that are listed for the Booker Prize longlist, I was left wondering what they were going for in suggesting this one. Last year I read the Edward St Aubyn send up of the prize, and the identity politics and vision for the prize spoof is funny to me thinking about this one. It’s not a terrible novel and the writing is often quite good, but the whole feels like nothing much to me.
There are not that many good stories within the novel. The second or third story with the homeless/prostitute woman was the best.
The novel itself is similar to a lot of other famous novels by women of the British empire. Something about hotels inspires a lot of kind of throwaway novels. Ooooooh people in, people out, stories in, stories out. That’s the kind of novel we’re dealing with here. But rather than a frame with a series of stories about the various guests, this novel deals more with how to reinvent tropes and narrative perspectives and trying to figure out different ways to exert out forms of narrative. The end result is a pretty uneven mishmash of stories. The final product itself doesn’t have a lot of specific things that are notable. Like I said, I was left with only one story that left any kind of impression. I think I will read one more Ali Smith novel and see what happens.