Girl Meets Boy
by Ali Smith
This is such a lovely book. Using that word, I fear undersells or even undermines it, but it’s precisely how I feel about it.
Sisters Anthea and Imogen live together in what was their grandparents’ home in Inverness. Their relationship is strained, fractious, as they see the world very differently. Imogen enjoys her job in marketing at Pure, a large corporation that is looking to bottle and sell the local water. She even got Anthea a job there too, but Anthea is less keen. Corporate isn’t really her.
Through the sisters, their lives and love lives, Smith explores Ovid’s Metamorphoses in a modern setting, in particular the story of Iphis and Ianthe. It isn’t hidden away in the subtext; one character explains this story to another, but Smith makes that feel entirely natural. (There are also Shakespeare references that are a little more hidden, but I don’t think the reader who doesn’t spot them will miss anything. No doubt there are allusions I didn’t see too.)