This is the situation faced by Ida in Ali Shaw's debut novel, 'The Girl With Glass Feet', which has recently been longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. Set in a faraway (or is it?) land which feels to be drained of colour, Ida stumbles across Midas - an exceedingly shy and lonely chap who is obsessed with light and photography. The pair embark on a very tentative relationship, but despite Ida's obvious physical frailties, it's Midas's sensitivity and vulnerability which threatens to ruin any chance of happiness they might once be able to discover. And if they do manage to overcome Midas's endless inhibitions, how much time do they have left before the glass decides to venture north up Ida's body?
We discussed this book this evening at our monthly book-pub-club (as I've just decided to name it since it takes place in a pub), and overall our thoughts about the novel were extremely positive. It's a wonderful story, and it's written extremely well, and in such a way that you really can picture in your mind the mysterious land that Shaw has created; like our own in the vast majority of ways, but just different enough for the reader to be able to suspend their disbelief and accept that, in this world, turning into glass is not an impossible affliction. Some moments are truly breathtaking, others are perhaps a little 'out there', but each and every character - all suffering from some kind of loss - is absorbing. And the visual metaphors are awesome. Here's one of my favourite ones:
"A robin tweeting on a branch was paling from chestnut brown to fine white. Its legs became white wires and its eyes became hailstones. Its breast remained a red thumbprint for a second, then that also faded, through pink to crisp white."I just love that 'thumbprint' image.
I'd very much recommend giving this book a read. It's different to anything I've ever read before and it's also the prettiest book I've ever seen, with silver-edged pages. Almost glass-like...