Free Love and Other Stories


Free Love and Other Stories is a short story collection by Scottish Booker-shortlisted author Ali Smith, first published in 1995 by Virago Press. It was her first published book and won the Saltire First Book of the Year award.[1] and a Scottish Arts Council award[2]

"A Sweetly memorable collection" - The Times[3]


Ali Smith chose the cover of the first edition, a picture of Louise Brooks from the G. W. Pabst film Diary of a Lost Girl (1929).[4] The cover also includes a quote from Irish writer Bernard MacLaverty: "What a great bunch of stories".


It contains 12 stories :-

  • "Free Love" : A teenage girl finds unexpected sexual freedom on a trip to Amsterdam...
  • "A story of folding and unfolding" : A father unpacks his dead wife's underwear and is reminded of his first contact with her as an electrician rewiring a WAF dormitory...
  • "Text for the day" : Melissa disappears and her concerned friend Austen discovers that nothing in her flat has been touched except her large book collection (from Agee to Yevtushenko) which lies scattered in a state of disarray. Melissa is soon in touch and asks Austen to send her a selection of her books annually as she is travelling the world, re-reading and distributing the pages as she goes...
  • "A quick one" : A girl waits to meet her ex in a cafe and reminisces over the relationship...
  • "Jenny Robertson your friend is not coming" : A girl has a meal with her friend Elizabeth in a restaurant in the Grassmarket before going to watch a film...
  • "To the cinema" : A Sunday morning cinema usher describes her favourite films, the loss of her faith and her relationship with her boyfriend Geoff. Meanwhile a regular in the audience is secretly obsessed with her...
  • "The touching of wood" : A girl describes a visit to the Greek island Spinalonga with her girlfriend...
  • "Cold Iron : Anne McGregor has fond memories of her mother who has recently died...
  • "College" : Following the death of her elder sister Gillian, Alex and her parents travel to her Cambridge College for the dedication of a bench in her honour. Afterwards her family plan a day in Kent but Alex hitches a ride in a lorry to Brighton instead...
  • "Scary" : Linda travels with her boyfriend Tom to spend a night at his ex-girlfriend Zoe and her new partner Richard's. When the arrive they discover their host's scary obsession with River Phoenix...
  • "The unthinkable happens to people every day" : In which a man suffers a nervous breakdown and drives to Scotland where he meets a young girl skimming stones by the edge of a loch...
  • "The world with love" : A girl meets an old school friend and remembers when their French teacher 'went mad'...
References in the book

Books mentioned in "Text for the day"

  • Villette and Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Seeing Things by Seamus Heaney
  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Bliss by Peter Carey
  • The Novel Today by Malcolm Bradbury
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Selected Dramas and Lyrics of Ben Johnson
  • Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
  • Dubliners by James Joyce
  • The Sunday Missal and Prayer Book
  • Mornings in Mexico by D. H. Lawrence

Films mentioned in "To the cinema"

  • The Birth of a Nation (1915)
  • Pandora's Box (1929, starring Louise Brooks)
  • Beauty Prize (1930, starring Louise Brooks)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Les Enfants du Paradis (1945)
  • Rashomon (1950)
  • The Seventh Seal (1957)
  • North by Northwest (1959)
  • A Bout de Souffle (1960)
  • Barbarella (1968)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Betty Blue (1986)
  • Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  • Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Other prominent references

  • Crazy by Patsy Cline features in "A Quick One"
  • Queen Christina (a 1933 film starring Greta Garbo) features in "Jenny Robertson your friend is not coming"
External links
  • My first book -- A literary adventure from The Times 11 Dec 2004
  1. ^
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  3. ^ Back cover of 2002 Virago Press edition
  4. ^

{{Navbox | name = Ali Smith | title = Works by Ali Smith | state = autocollapse | listclass = hlist

|group1= Collections |list1 =

  • Free Love (1995)
  • Other Stories (1999)
  • The Whole Story (2003)
  • The First Person (2008)
  • Public Library (2015)

|group2= Novels |list2 =

  • Like (1997)
  • Hotel World (2001)
  • The Accidental (2005)
  • There But For The (2011)
  • How to Be Both (2014)
  • Autumn (2016)
  • Winter (2017)


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