The closing volume of the Seasons Quarter by Ali Smith. Arguably, this is the best or at least most impressive of the books, but I will get to that. The books are not sequels, so you can read them in any order. Instead, each novel focuses on a season (and things attached to that season) and generally try to capture the current moment (as of publication) while also trying to place things within broader contexts or connected thematic moments.
So in this book, the absolute sense of irrational and senseless that’s been attached to the worldwide response to Black Lives Matters and Covid-19, the cruelty of government responses in the US and UK, or lack thereof, and the ways in which tribal power-wielding and retention has been the only motivating force behind both governments just creates a feeling of despair (in our lives) that this book takes the measure of.
But Smith puts this contemporary feeling alongside a brother and sister of German ancestry but English national identity returning to England before WWII one summer, as well with the immigration (well, refugee movement) of an Italian woman after the war, into play in this novel.
The novel is written in a very readable impressionistic style (and what this feels like is that sentences and paragraphs are very flexibly designed), but the over all book is very engaging and easy to read. Of the four books, this one and Autumn stand out as the best for me, I think because of the motivation for starting the project that gives energy to that first book, and the clear reminders we’ve had in the past year for the need of this final volume.