Girl Meets Boy – Ali Smith

I have to admit that despite my mother being a Classics teacher, though possibly because of that, I have no recollection of many of the great myths. The one that I did love the most was Persephone I don’t know why though looking back. Anyway I digress, with that in mind I went into reading Ali Smiths Girl Meets Boy not thinking of it as a re-working of Ovid’s Metamorphoses or The Myth of Iphis but simply as a new novel. I have to say I don’t think you have to know Ovid to enjoy this anymore or less you will think its wonderful either way. You do get to hear the story of Iphis in the book though about half way through and you can see it reflected in the novel as a whole.

Canongate Books, paperback, 2008, fiction, 176 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

Girl Meets Boy tells the story of sisters Imogen and Anthea Gunn, both are at pivotal points in their lives but for completely different reasons. They have grown up loving but not quite understanding each other in Inverness and working for the mass global firm Pure. However things start to change when Anthea leaves/is sacked and on her way out meets rebellious Robin a girl who is writing anti-capitalist slogans on the Pure Head Office walls.

The chapters of the novel switch between sisters, we here how Anthea falls for Robin and then the shock of Imogen to Anthea’s sexuality (which is hilarious) and onto Imogen’s discovery about corporations and the ways in which they work. Ali Smith manages to feed us lots of information about sexuality, globalisation and women’s rights and yet make it light hearted and upbeat which is quite a feat. The most important theme in the novel is love, something its incredibly optimistic about which is a joy to read.

Like good myths of old there is a lot of surrealism in the novel, not masses, but a bit. After reading the opening line ‘let me tell you about when I was a girl, our grandfather says’ I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy the book, with a sneaking suspicion it might go over my head. I was proved wrong and frankly after having read some of Ali Smiths novels before (I must revisit The Accidental this year) should have know I was in safe hands. The prose is beautiful and you can’t help think that the old myth creators of the past would read this novel and think it was wonderful, I certainly did.


Filed under Ali Smith, Books of 2009, Canongate Publishing, Review, The Canongate Myths

12 responses to “Girl Meets Boy – Ali Smith

  1. Sarah

    I enjoyed Ali Smith’s Other stories and other stories and other books in this Myths series, so must read this soon. Thanks for reminding me!

  2. Simon Savidge

    You really must, I think its a book everyone could do with at the moment!

  3. The Canongate myth series are wonderful – I think there is a new one coming out shortly. I think this was one of my favourites, along with Atwood’s Penelopiad.

    • There is indeed a certain Pullman book about Jesus coming out. No proofs are being given out though, have checked. That one mightnt be allowed in this house though as The Converted One is quite religious ironically.

  4. I cannot tell you how much I love this book. She uses language so well, there were some phrases here and there that were simply perfect. The final chapter had me sobbing with joy – a truly happy ending.

  5. I enjoyed both The Accidental and Hotel World (as well as some stories). It sounds like I need to add this to my list!

  6. I’m always interested in Smith’s work after loving Hotel World. To date, it’s the only work of hers I’ve read, but I have The Accidental at home, and this one sounds like a worthy addition to the stacks.

  7. Pingback: There But For The – Ali Smith | Savidge Reads

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