In Review

Companion Piece by Ali Smith: an entertaining portrait of the world we live in

In this novel, Smith skilfully evokes the grim monotony of pandemic life

Ali Smith’s first novel since her “extraordinary Seasonal Quartet” has a fitting title, said Alex Preston in The Observer, as it “springs from the same source as its predecessors”. Like them, it was “written and published swiftly”, to cram in recent events.

It’s 2021, and Sandy, an artist, is “struggling through lockdown”. Her father is in hospital following a heart attack – and she “only has his dog for company”. Smith skilfully evokes the grim monotony of pandemic life, said Catherine Taylor in the FT – from the “regularity of testing” to “the exhaustion of medical staff”.

Much of the plot concerns Sandy’s “renewed acquaintance” with an old university friend Martina, who gets in touch to tell her about her recent interrogation by UK border police, said Philip Hensher in The Daily Telegraph.

This leads to Sandy meeting Martina’s twin daughters, Eden and Lea, who are full of “millennial” rage and entitlement. Covering a “lot of contemporary ground”, Companion Piece offers an entertaining portrait of the “world we live in, by the most beguiling and likeable of novelistic intelligences”.

Hamish Hamilton 400pp £16.99

Book cover
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