How to Be Both – Ali Smith

Two stories of girls who lost their mothers young – modern day Georgia, and 15th century Francesco del Cossa (in that order, in the version I picked up from the library).

Schoolgirl Georgia is slowly coming to terms with her mother’s death, revisiting memories of happier times in particular their visit to Ferrara to see the frescoes painted (in part) by Francesco del Cossa over 500 years before, and who masqueraded as a male in order to make a living as an artist. Lots more going on, and I was very pleased that the intriguing and beautiful cover photo of Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy had a part to play.

A book that took a while to warm too – but I’m glad I persevered.

Publisher page:How to Be Both – Ali Smith

Guardian Review: How to Be Both by Ali Smith review – playful, tender, unforgettable – Laura Miller, 13 September 2014

Hotel World – Ali Smith

Serendipity led to my actually finishing this one… I started it over the Bank Holiday weekend in Walton (to take my mind of horrendous period pain and my first Open University assignment, a truely unenjoyable combination), and found it too depressing to persevere with until yesterday. A post-TMA 1 shopping trip with Hazel, spending her money on things for her post-transformation pad, meant I needed something to read on the bus, and Hotel World was all I had (cue another trip to the Barbican library). And having managed another chapter, the Guardian had an article on top 50 books as voted for by Hay festival goers (I think), which ranked Hotel World highly.

So I finished it last night.

I can see why it’s rated – It seems well written, and the variety of perspectives well grounded and insightful – but I think first person narratives about death aren’t really ever going to be my cup of tea.

Buy it: Amazon link