Beautifully weird … or weirdly beautiful. Not quite sure, but either way, I loved this book.
The back cover says: ‘There once was a man who, one night between the main course and the sweet at a dinner party, went upstairs and locked himself in one of the bedrooms of the house of the people who were giving the dinner party . . .’
If that makes you excited for a book about said man (Miles), then I have to disappoint you, he is not the main character in it. Neither is Anna, who gets dragged into the aftermath of Miles’s decision and for a moment seems to become the centre of the story. The book doesn’t really have a main character or a clear group of them. It’s a bit more complicated. As the back cover also says: ‘As time passes by and the consequences of this stranger’s actions ripple outwards, touching the owners, the guests, the neighbours and the whole country …’ These people are revealed in time.
So you just have to let your expectations of a ‘normal’ book go, and go into the beautifully weird world Ali Smith has created. Enjoy the great writing and the questions that will keep haunting you for a while.
There but for the by Ali Smith, First published June 2, 2011
*On a side note: it took me way too long to discover Ali Smith. But I am very happy she has published enough to continue this discovery for a while.