Summer: A Novel by Ali Smith

Summer: A Novel by Ali Smith

Author:Ali Smith
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Pantheon
Published: 2020-08-24T23:00:00+00:00

Here’s a tale to drive away the time trimly. Once upon etc there was a king or a lord or a duke that had a fair daughter, the fairest that ever was, with hair and skin as white and as red and as gold and as black as etc and once upon etc his daughter was stolen away etc.

Today Hannah Gluck has been trawling the graveyards of the smaller places out of town, cycling between them with flowers in the bicycle’s basket, wheeling the bike past the graves, checking the dates, memorizing the names of the ones who died young.

This is a good source. It’s not completely safe but birth and death certification are usually held in different lists, often in different drawers or cabinets, sometimes even in different buildings if you’re lucky. If you’re lucky, if you’re moving fast, nobody thinks to check both sources, that’s if they check at all.

This’ll change. Change is the nature of luck.

But it’s still working well at the moment.

She has started going out of whichever town or city she’s in, out to the surrounding villages especially. People can be more suspicious though. Or they tend to be, in the smaller places.

No, it’s more that when people see her in the graveyards going from stone to stone they can be either foul or kind. It’s always interesting. You can never tell which way they’ll go.

Who the hell are you?

Can I help?

Hannah Gluck is ready for both.

In this readiness, Hannah Gluck is more than Hannah Gluck. At the moment she is Adrienne Albert, seamstress. Adrienne Albert died at eighteen months old, in Nancy, in 1920, of Spanish influenza. She’s buried there in the same grave as a grandmother who died of the same thing at much the same time. But here she is, regardless, living and breathing and as warm as any living flesh and blood, though just a touch younger than it says on her papers, and today she’s trawling a graveyard and looking to resurrect other lives like her own.

You see the name and the dates on a stone.

You ask a silent permission of the person gone.

You bow your head to their memory.

Then you pass on the gifts, the names and the dates, to the person who needs the new self.

It’s not subterfuge. It’s much more complex. Something real happens, something as metamorphic as caterpillar and butterfly. The gone person is as here and as real and as much a part of the act of balancing against the odds as a girl at a circus Hannah saw years ago, on one toe on one foot on one leg on the back of another girl on the back of two other girls, all on the back of a huge horse going at a lumbering canter you’d have thought it impossible to balance on top of even if there were only one of you on its back, thundering round the ring to a circus band playing Did You Ever See A Dream Walking.

How did they do it?

They did it against the odds.


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