Winter, by Ali Smith

Second paragraph of third chapter:

This is happening some time in the future,. Art is on a sofa holding a small child in his arms. The child, who has been learning to read, is sitting on Art’s knee flicking through a book pulled out at random from the bookcase next to Art’s head. It’s an old copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

A short but great book, about a mother and son who don’t really like each other; the mother’s sister, who doesn’t get on with her at all; and the young Croatian woman who agrees at the last moment to pretend to be the son’s girlfriend at the family Christmas gathering, the real girlfriend having dumped him and hijacked his social media accounts. There’s a lot here about family dynamics, contemporary politics, environmentalism and the Greenham Common campaigners; there’s also a bit of a riff on A Christmas Carol, not so much a rewriting of it as a reflection. I found it all pretty powerful. Recommended, perhaps especially as a Christmas present (though for people who won’t worry that there is a hidden message in your giving it to them). You can get it here.

This was both my top unread book by a woman and my top unread non-genre fiction book. Next on the first of those piles is Cart and Cwidder, by Diana Wynne Jones; next on the other is Marking Time, by Elizabeth Jane Howard,