Ms. Smith writes superb novels (most recently, Swing Time) but this book is a collection of essays, reviews of books and music, and other writings. She writes with a refreshingly candid and breezy style about art, music, books and social justice issues. She is self-deprecating, describing her and her friends: “we stood around pointlessly, like the Luddite fiscally ignorant liberals we are, complaining about the inevitable”. There are enchanting digressions in the essays like a description of an epiphany regarding Joni Mitchell music while in Tintern Abbey which eventually segues into a discussion of Kierkegaard! Given the diversity of topics, some essays inevitably are less engaging but collectively this is a must-read book for ZS fans.
An un-named narrator tells a story that alternates between two times: childhood in NW London in the 1980s, and adulthood in the 2000s. All the important relationships in the narrator’s life are with women: her mother, her friend Tracey, and her employer Aimee, a Madonna-like rock star. A sub-plot in Africa is especially rewarding. Smith’s prose is insightful, she is an acute observer of the narrator’s world. This is sensational writing, the best of Smith’s books so far.