3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Joyful, life-affirming and inspiring,
This review is from: Girl Meets Boy (Myths) (Paperback)
What a gem of a book! A joyful, playful myth about a myth: an absolute, transcendant triumph with a surface sparkle that takes the reader deep into issues of what it means to be a woman, gender, capitalism, misogyny, homophobia, infanticide and sexuality. As previous reviewers have noted, it's a retelling of the Iphis myth, from Ovid's Metamorphoses, but you don't have to be a classicist to appreciate it. Trust Ali Smith, she knows exactly what she's doing. Yes - the opening section leaves the reader with a 'What on earth?' response, intentionally so. Read on and it all unfolds beautifully, resonating with that magical power that myths still possess.
Reduced to the bare narrative facts - Anthea and Imogen, sisters in Inverness working in the creative department of a bottled water company that has secret plans to dominate and control the world's water supply - it sounds pedestrian. But Smith's understanding of how myths work and her pyrotechnic writing skills set the text sparkling. It's playfully peppered with hundreds of literary allusions, from Shakespeare and Joyce to popular culture. It's witty and funny and whimsical (how I loved Eau Caledonia!) and has the most wonderful sex scene. More poetry than prose in places, it's a dancing, virtuoso piece of writing that reaches heights and resounds more deeply than straightforward prose allows.
Ultimately this is a book celebrating the feminine. It's a call to women's arms: it reminds us of the way things still are for most women in the world 2000 years on from Ovid, it shows us how gender stereotyped we are, how cowed by capitalism and social conformity, and it reminds us that there are other ways if we are prepared to step out of our boxes and see things differently. And it's a love story - and what a description of falling in love, too.
Readers who like a traditional narrative in which everything is ploddingly clear may find the style and the sheer playfulness challenging, but please give this a try. It is one of those books which can make you cry and set you flying at the same time, and they are beyond price.