The second installment of Ali Smith’s seasons quartet, Winter, wasn’t quite what I was expecting. And as is usual for a lot of books for me lately, the last quarter of the book is where it really all came together. Smith’s writing about our times in ways that I find intriguing, but will admit I’m not always sure I totally understand.

In Winter a son is going home for the Christmas holiday after being humiliated online by his partner and because his mother is expecting it, he pays someone else to play the role of his partner so he doesn’t have to deal with explaining what happened once he gets home. But unbeknownst to him, his mother has been going through difficulties.

And there we get to what will carry us through the novel, the meeting of people who are family or not, but all of whom are struggling mightily at this very moment. The character willing to tell the truth and speak is the aunt, who is called when the son realizes how much difficulty his mother is having. And through some flashbacks to the past, we learn how very different these sisters are and possibly why they haven’t spoken in years.

I’m still not sure what I think of these characters. I’m not totally sure what I think of the book, but I’ve got Spring on hold now, so I trust Smith enough to keep going with the series.