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Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  5,260 ratings  ·  630 reviews
Girl meets boy. It’s a story as old as time. But in Whitbread winner Ali Smith’s lyrical, funny, mash-up of Ovid’s most joyful gender-bending metamorphosis story, girl meets boy in so many more ways than one. Imogen and Anthea, sisters that are opposites, work together at Pure, a creative agency attempting to “bottle imagination, politics, and nature” in the form of a new ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published December 21st 2007 by Canongate U.S. (first published October 2007)
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Girl meets boy, I said. In so many more ways than one.”

While I’m admittedly someone who is not afraid to share my opinion, I am also not a person who actively seeks out things to rage about. Especially on a social media site. Yes, there are injustices in the world and yes sometimes a book makes me think about political/religious/whatever controversial topics, but my goal on this site is to discuss those things as little as possible.
...more
Kalliope



I came to this book through the group reading on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, RC , referred to us this ‘Ovidian’ take by Ali Smith. I had already read one of Smith’s novels How to Be Both, which partly dwells on the Ferrarese painter Francesco del Cossa. In a way the title of that one could also fit for this other novel. Clearly Smith is interested in dualities -- whether characters, sex etc. Seven years separate the two novels; Girl Meets Boy is the earlier one and was published in 2004.

This was an
...more
Adam Dalva
I was excited at the beginning of this book - particularly since I'm going to Inverness next week! - but found it to be a bit of an odd mixture of on-the-nose plot (it's a classic feel good story in many ways, with a horrid sexist villain who is overcome and everything) and experimental, stream-of-consciousness writing. When it is good, it is very good:

"Because of us, things came together. Everything was possible.
I had not known, before us, that every vein in my body was capable of carrying
...more
karen
Jan 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is not my favorite ali smith, but its charming, and it is better than the other books in this series look. does that make sense? i loved elements of this novella, but some of it seemed a bit pat. her writing is still gorgeous though.
BrokenTune
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"The river laughed. I swear it did. It laughed and it changed as I watched. As it changed, it stayed the same. The river was all about time, it was about how little time actually mattered. I looked at my watch. Fuck. I was an hour and a half late. Ha ha! The river laughed at me again."

Girl Meets Boy is part of the Myths series published by Canongate where authors re-tell exisitng myths and stories. Other authors in this series include Margaret Atwood, Karen Armstrong, AS Byatt, David Grossman,
...more
Helene Jeppesen
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though this book is really tiny (it's 161 pages), it still has a strong story and a clear message. It deals with the two genders and how they both mix up and are basically the same. It doesn't matter whether you're a boy and a girl or whether you fall in love with a boy or a girl, and Ali Smith does a beautiful job at describing this transparancy between the two sexes.
Once again, Ali Smith has surprised me with her poignant writing style. She definitely has a rare talent for telling a
...more
MJ Nicholls
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another day, another terrific novel from Ali Smith. I have resolved to gobble up her canon in the most heroic time possible, like an overweight man backing a lorryload of curries and waffles into his ecstatic gob. In Glasgow we have a meal called the Everything & More, which is enough food for an entire Ethiopian village in a bucket. Battered.

This delightful story frames the myth of Iphis (woman disguises her daughter as a man, daughter turns into a man later on) within a tale of sexual
...more
Barry Pierce
If this was written by Jodi Picoult or Danielle Steel is would be branded as an "unconventional love story". Thankfully it's written by Ali Smith who has enough brains in her head to write a love story which happens to be unconventional.
Vanessa
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let it be known: I enjoyed an Ali Smith book. That's something I never thought I'd hear myself say, as I tried to read The Accidental a few years ago, and just couldn't get on board with the prose style. I've never been a fan of stream-of-consciousness so that was to be expected, but with Girl Meets Boy I ended up devouring it in two sittings.

I won't go into the synopsis too much: it follows two sisters, Andrea and Imogen. Andrea finds herself falling in love with a girl, Robin, whereas Imogen
...more
Tanuj Solanki
I like Smith's reworking of the Iphis myth better than Chaudhuri's attempts with the Odysseus story. Smith gives us movement, energy, chutzpah, and shows that the retelling of a myth in the modern context does not necessarily have to emphasize the mundane and the mundane only. Not everyone has to be plotless like Joyce. And, on plot or on syntactical innovation or on something else, Smith knows that it is important to get a tick in the 'radical' column, like Joyce knew very well. It's something ...more
Katie.dorny
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was a beautiful lgbtqia+ retelling if the Ovid in the modern era and I adored it.

The love story was beautiful, the prose, the character development..all together it kept a huge smile on my face the entire time.

The open nature of gender and it’s fluidity and how the narrative relating to sexuality and identity was directed to the reader was so intimate it drew you in and made the story much more powerful.

Roman Clodia
2.5 stars

She was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life

I confess, I ran kicking and screaming from Smith’s Autumn after reading no more than the first 5 or so pages – this was my second attempt at her, to try to understand what everyone else finds so substantial and rewarding. After all, I love Ovid; I love classical receptions; I’m interested in books about gender – and textual – fluidity – I should love this, right? Wrong. I think I’m going to have to admit that Smith is just, as
...more
Marc
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is there a phrase for when you're falling for an author? Like, maybe, an "author crush" or something? Ms. Smith and I had our first date a year or so ago with How To Be Both and I got that whole giddy I-think-I've-met-the-one (as in "the one" to add to all the other ones whose every book I think I must read). But I don't like to rush into things (and you can only fit so many "ones" into your life at the same time), so it hasn't been 'til now that I got to a second read of hers. She has the kind ...more
Neil
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"Let me tell you about when I was a girl, our grandfather says."

So begins Ali Smith's contribution to the Canongate Myth series. I knew from that first sentence that I was going to enjoy this! And it was great fun to read, as is everything I have read by Ali Smith (which is nearly all of her novels, but hardly any of her short stories). I only wish it had been longer. I read it on my Kindle and the few times I glanced at the bottom of the screen, the percentage read seemed to have gone up very
...more
Mary
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015, scotland
I started reading this randomly today and probably wouldn’t have chosen it if I had read up on it and saw that it was a “myth retelling,” or that an entire chapter was written in dozens of parenthesis. I’m glad I did, though.
Tracey
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ali-smith
Well this was my first Ali Smith book and I liked it a lot.
This novel is one of the Canon gate myth series, modern re tellings of ancient myths.
This one is the story of Ovids Iphis from Metamorphoses, the story of a girl who falls in love with a girl but on their wedding day turns into a boy so she can please her lover. (that's the short version!)
Ali Smith centres the story around 2 sisters Imogen (Midge) and Anthea.
It is told in both their voices and I loved them both.
I really liked Ali Smith's
...more
Lydia
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, lgbtiqa
The blurb of this book grabbed me, and then I opened a page, and it really didn't let me go until the end.

This is a powerful little book.

It's feminist. It has LGBTIQA characters, it's based in Ancient myth. What more do you want, really?

But in all seriousness, this is a really well-crafted book. I wish it hadn't been so sparse in places but it's lovely just to read a book about my own kind of people for once.

I would be interested in reading the rest of Smith's work, but I'll be honest, I don't
...more
Vonia
This is my third book by Ali Smith. Based on everything I have read, I was looking forward to one of those novellas that seems so short, yet so perfect; one that would impress me with its storytelling finesse. I have a special interest in modern retellings, and this seems to be the only adaptation out there on the Myth of Iphis.

A whimsical adaptation in which Smith's writing makes for a poetic read illustrating the transformative power of love, I was only a little disappointed. While I liked it,
...more
Giulia
This book is based on a modern reinterpretation of the myth of Iphis, which is chapter 9 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid. It is a story of a girl meeting a boy, but somehow unconventional because the boy is not male.

It got me quite a bit to get used to Ali Smith's writing, but once I got it I was hooked. I couldn't put this book down.
It's a powerful little book this one. I loved how the different points of view perfectly complement each other.I love how it is feminist. I would have preferred more
...more
SueLucie
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
What a talented writer Ali Smith is. I adore her work and have read most of her novels but somehow this one slipped past me. How glad I am that Canongate are reissuing it now and have given me the opportunity to read it via NetGalley.

Created in 2007 as part of the Canongate series of myths retold, this is a modern take on Ovid’s gender-shifting story of Iphis and Ianthe. It is great fun, combining the author’s trademark wordplay and exuberant wit with serious moral and cultural issues
...more
Abeer Hoque
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Let me tell you about when I was a girl, our grandfather says."

I was hooked by the first line of "Girls Meets Boy" by Ali Smith and had to buy it immediately (from the awesome bookstore, Raven Used Books, in Northampton, MA). GMB is a little book, a modern retelling of the myth of Iphis. Not to worry, the myth is explained both traditionally in poetic old school language and in everyday slang, as well as through the story of two Scottish sisters in modern day Iverness: the brooding smartass
...more
Robert
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ali Smith’s contribution to the Canongate Myths Series is considered one of the highlights of the whole set and although I have only read four of them, I can definitely say that this one is a stunner.

Ali Smith takes the tale of Iphis and Ianthe and places it in a modern setting. A small summary of the myth: Iphis was born a girl but had to live like a boy and eventually fell in love with Ianthe. Ianthe understood that she could not marry a woman (remember this is ancient Greece and written by
...more
Arta
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: I changed my rating from four to five stars.
The more I think about this book the more I love it. It definitely deserves five stars. And a spot on my favorites shelf.

Briefly:
As the title already suggests, this is a story about a girl meeting a boy but it's somehow unconventional because the boy is female. It will make sense to you, once you realize that this is a myth retelling of Ovid's Iphis and Ianthe. Gender is the main focus in this novel and I really enjoyed how the myth evolved
...more
Joy Stephenson
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Funny, poignant, heart-warming in content and lyrical in style. Loved it.
Sid Nuncius
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ali Smith's work has been a bit of a mixed bag for me, but I enjoyed Girl Meets Boy. Parts of it are quite brilliant and other sections not so good, but as a whole it was well done, I thought. It is also commendably concise, packing a lot into relatively few pages.

Smith takes Ovid's myth of Iphis and re-sets it in 2007 in Inverness. She uses the structure to write beautifully about sexual identity and attitudes toward it, the role and treatment of women in the world, and about the behaviour of
...more
Isobel
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll read whatever Ali Smith writes since everything she writes is always so life affirming and wonderful. I loved the queer love story at the centre of this book which was both funny and beautiful. Once again Ali Smith has restored my faith in humanity.
Kathryn
A good way to start the new year! I enjoyed this book more than how to be both I think. I have 2 more Ali Smith books on my tbr to get to this year and I can't wait :)
Chad
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A timeless, funny, and honest retelling of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Loved the depiction of queer love and how silly it is to live in a binary (whether self-imposed or self-perceived) as well as the indictment of corporate capitalism. In other words, it’s classic Ali Smith. 4/5
Maureen
Aug 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, 2009
after i read girl meets boy i realized it was a lot more like what i had expected eugenides' middlesex to be than middlesex actually was. i will definitely read this again, perhaps when more in the mood for a love story, and i'm interested in reading more of ali smith's work.

it is a book that plays out at a break-neck pace, except for the moments where the language is allowed to meander into scenes of poetry and gives one pause in the midst of beauty. there is much to love in ali smith's finesse
...more
Jay Moran
Ali Smith was an author I felt I simply had to read after hearing the near deafening bellows of praise for her work from other readers. The premise of Girl Meets Boy interested me the most and I would say reading it was certainly an experience. I've found with stream-of-consciousness writing that the only way I can fully enjoy and appreciate it is if I read it aloud, which seems to amplify the words and intensifies feeling. Reading books like Mrs Dalloway and Girl Meets Boy is almost like ...more
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Classical Literat...: Girl Meets Boy Discussion (with spoilers) 8 118 Nov 04, 2019 03:48AM  

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2,664 followers
Ali Smith is a writer, born in Inverness, Scotland, to working-class parents. She was raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge. She studied at Aberdeen, and then at Cambridge, for a Ph.D. that was never finished. In a 2004 interview with writing magazine Mslexia, she talked briefly about the difficulty of becoming ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a year and how it ...more
“She had the swagger of a girl. She blushed like a boy. She had a girl’s toughness. She has a boy’s gentleness. She was as meaty as a girl. She was as graceful as a boy. She was as brave and handsome and rough as a girl. She was as pretty and delicate and dainty as a boy. She turned boys' heads like a girl. She turned girls' heads like a boy. She made love like a boy. She made love like a girl. She was so boyish it was girlish, so girlish it was boyish, she made me want to rove the world writing our names on every tree. I had simply never found someone so right. Sometimes this shocked me so much that I was unable to speak.” 50 likes
“And 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.” 31 likes
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