On Beauty – Zadie Smith

On Beauty has been described as a ‘transatlantic comedy saga’ (The Observer) and it seems to be just that. I read it just over a year ago during my Zadie Smith craze, and it’s stuck with me. The novel follows the lives of two families, and focuses in particular on the children of those families – one family, the Belseys, are very liberal, atheist and live in the USA, while the other, the Kipps, are British, very conservative and Christian. Despite these differences, the families become linked through several odd ties; both fathers are academics and each others nemeses while the children become close and even fall in love. The novel explores culture and cultural differences between the USA and the UK, as well as race, the meaning of beauty, love and family, and the clash of liberal and conservative academic values. Zadie Smith writes extremely well, and the novel is funny, poignant and meaningful. I definitely recommend!

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