Girl Meets Boy

“…Girl Meets Boy is rewriting – and then some. A glorious wide-awake dream of a book that has, right at its beating heart, one of Ovid’s Metamorphoses…By the time I finished the book, my heart was beating and tears stood in my eyes, even as I had the biggest smile written all over my face…” Kirsty Gunn, Observer

“Ali Smith has delivered another exuberant cascade of words” Molly Guinness, Spectator

“Ali Smith, with humour and typical linguistic versatility, explores issues of homophobia, corporate and social responsibility and the sheer vertiginous feeling of falling in love…A delicate tale with a solid message of conscientious objection at its heart” Catherine Taylor, Independent on Sunday

Girl meets boy. It’s a story as old as time. But what happens when an old story meets a brand new set of circumstances?

Ali Smith’s re-mix of Ovid’s most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can’t be bottled and sold.

It is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, a story of puns and doubles, reversals and revelations.

Funny and fresh, poetic and political, Girl meets boy is a myth of metamorphosis for the modern world.

Ali Smith by Sarah WoodAli Smith’s first book, Free Love, won the Saltire First Book Award. She is also the author of Like (1997); Other Stories And Other Stories (1999); Hotel World (2001), which was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize, and won the Encore Award; The Whole Story and Other Stories (2003) and The Accidental (2005), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and won the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award.
  1. Cathrine in Norway (April 15, 2008 at 7:34 am) :

    My very favorite author delivers yet again :) !

    Thank you Ali! You books locate me and connect me to all that is life and human! You are wonderful!

    You live up to:

    “… it was always the stories that needed the telling that gave us the rope we could cross any river with. They balanced us high above any crevasse. They made us be natural acrobats. They made us brave. They met us well. They changed us. It was in their nature to.”
    From ‘Girl Meets Boy’.

  2. Spencer (May 13, 2008 at 12:00 am) :

    I just finished this book. It’s excellent! This is the first book by Ms Ali Smith that I’ve read and I’m now a fan. Her writing is so engaging and funny and yet it maintains a depth that really makes you feel empathy for the characters. Great writing and a great book!

  3. Spencer (May 13, 2008 at 12:02 am) :

    Oh! And by the way… the cover photo for the paperback edition (shown above) is the same photo that was used on the Morrissey & Siouxsie single, “Interlude.” Which is, of course, another kind of Girl Meets Boy story…


  4. Leonie (May 28, 2008 at 11:39 am) :

    I was unfamiliar with the Ovid myth prior to reading this book but I think that almost enhanced my reading of this wonderful modern take on the tale. Ali’s words in this book were an utter delight and I didn’t want them to stop. Her warmth and humour flowed through the characters and the situations in which they found themselves. I found myself literally laughing at loud on the second or third page where the young narrator states taht ‘there’ll be a wedding which is what it’s called before people get divorced.

    For such a timeless myth, Smith manages to incorporate elements which are very now such as political street art and corporate warfare in both internal and external policies. The casual homophobia and sexism of modern British society and the role of women throughout history and how little of ‘our’ lot has changed are all brought to bear in fleeting capsule moments which stick with you throughout the book.

    I was reluctant to turn the page on this modern yet ancient myth as I was left clamouring for more.

  5. Sheila (May 29, 2008 at 1:09 am) :

    A wonderful short book. The re-telling of the myth of Iphis (a girl who was raised a boy), in contemporary Inverness creates a wonderful tale of gender roles and change, intertwined with a love story. The story also explores issues of homophobia, sexism and corporate greed versus social responsibility.

    The link between the Iphis myth is very apparent in this wonderful description of Robin (female, but with the usual boys spelling of her name). She “had the swagger of a girl. She blushed like a boy. She had a girl’s toughness. She had a boy’s gentleness. She was as meaty as a girl. She was as graceful as a boy…”

    As an Invernessian, I enjoyed the references to my home town. Not just the locations and place names, but the more hidden references such as the fact that when the girls were at school they thought Robin was a bit different and an outsider, partly because she came on the Beauly bus!

    I really enjoyed the wordplay in the passages describing the love scenes and loved the wit in the wedding scene – “A male-voice choir from the Inverness Police Force sang a beautiful arrangement of songs from Gilbert and Sullivan. Then the Inverness Constabulary female-voice choir sang an equally beautiful choral arrangement of Don’t Cha (Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me)”

  6. Laura (June 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm) :

    This was an absolutely wonderful read. I had not heard of the original myth which the story was based upon but it was decent of Smith to include it within her modern re-telling. The scenes in the opening pages sucked me back to my own childhood, spent at my grandparents though it was Dad’s Army in my case rather than blind date.

    The book was so short and I was left wanting more. The conflict between the two sisters, the imagined wedding ceremony, the gender politics relevant today as they were 2, 000 years ago. At times I wondered if the contemporary references (such as renditions from the Pussycat Dolls) gelled with an older story. By golly they did. The oldies are the best.

  7. Lyn (July 5, 2008 at 11:50 am) :

    It’s a beautiful story, beautifully told! That’s what I thought when I was reading it, that’s what I thought as I turned the last page, and that’s all I can think as I write these comments. It’s a beautiful story, beautifully told!

    My daughter tried to introduce me to the delights of Ali Smith’s poetic prose a couple of years ago, but I didn’t get it then, probably because she lent me a book of short stories which just isn’t my genre. I get it now! This short novel has me convinced! There’s something special about her use of language, some of her descriptive passages are breath-taking – not to mention that some of them run on without giving you time to breathe!

    I love the sisters and Robin, both on and off the page. It’s a sign of good writing when you think you might meet one of the characters and I can easily imagine all the players in this story having a real life, including the Big Bad Keith!

    I didn’t know the Iphis Myth until I met Girl Meets Boy. Now I’ll never forget it. Thank you for the introduction.

    This is only the second in the Myths series that I’ve read – but I’m sure it won’t be the last :-)

  8. Kiwi (August 29, 2008 at 1:01 pm) :

    I loved the style of writing in this book, the flow of words to create an atmosphere that wrapped you up and carried you along.

    There are many parts of this book I would like to quote and refer to…Anthea’s description of Robin “She has the swagger of a girl. She blushed like a boy. She had a girl’s toughness. She had a boy’s gentleness. She was as brave and handsome and rough as a girl. She was as pretty and delicate and dainty as a boy”. The words make you redefine the norm, as the legend of Iphis does.

    My favourite character was Imogen, whose internal dialogue of distress over everything was just so funny.

    One of my favourite reads of 2008.

  9. girl meets boy « hilaire (February 6, 2011 at 5:45 pm) :

    [...] 6, 2011 I’ve just finished Girl meets boy by Ali Smith, published by Canongate as part of The Myths series. Smith’s book is a retelling [...]

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  11. Taylor (June 14, 2014 at 2:18 am) :

    I accidentally borrowed this book from my library when I was in grade 10 – I was searching for books on mythology and the library website made the book sound like an Aphrodite-centric myth.

    I quickly stumbled through the story as confused and uncertain of myself as a boy stumbles through puberty. It was my first introduction to poetic prose and gender and sexuality in literature.

    The story was lost to me until last year when I was struck with a twinge of nostalgia for how I felt clumsily discovering the characters – the good, bad, and in-between. Finally, thanks to some old journal posts I found the title and have my own copy – which I’m hoping makes it’s way into my English courses when I become a teacher.

    Brilliant story, Amazing cast, and inspired retelling of what is probably the happiest tale in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

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