COMPANION PIECE by Ali Smith
(Penguin £16.99, 240pp) WHEN Ali Smith began her quartet of novels with Autumn in 2016, she planned to write about the events of the changing seasons.
From the Brexit vote to climate change and the election of Donald Trump, her approach was always oblique and full of playful digressions. Companion Piece weaves together two pandemic stories, one set in 2021, the other at the time of the Black Death.
Her narrator, Sandy, is an artist who moves into her father’s house during the Covid lockdown after he is hospitalised.
She is contacted by an old university acquaintance who has a strange story of a mysterious object which provides a link between the modern lockdown story and a haunting tale of an orphaned girl at the time of the Black Death.
Smith’s captivating novel suggests that our modern troubles have deep roots in the past.