U Girl blurs the line between fiction and reality as Frances begins to write a novel about the people she comes to know. With seamless metafictional play and an engagement with place that has come to be Quartermain’s definitive style, U Girl tells the story of a woman’s struggle to be taken seriously – to be equal to men despite her sexual attraction to them, and to dislodge accepted narratives of gender and class in the institution of the university during the "free love" era. In this sprawling and perceptive novel, Quartermain takes us through sexual experimentation, drugs, jobs, meditating on Wreck Beach, sailing up through Desolation Sound, and studying at the University of British Columbia.
Quartermain was the 2012 Writer in Residence at the Vancouver Public Library, where she led workshops on songwriting and writing about neighborhoods, and enjoyed doing manuscript consultations with many writers from the Greater Vancouver community. She’s now continuing these activities as Poetry Mentor in the Writer’s Studio Program at Simon Fraser University.
She has taught English at the University of British Columbia and Capilano College and led workshops at the Naropa Summer Writing Program, the Kootenay School of Writing, and the Toronto New School of Writing.
“Quartermain has truly outdone herself this time. … This bildungsroman is an extraordinary new addition to Canadian literature … Readers should prepare themselves for a tidal wave of emotion, reflection, and new perceptions when they dive into Quartermain’s latest masterpiece.” – Ubyssey
“Quartermain takes her readers through the lens of a young woman challenging her small town looking glass with a much wider angle...Much like [the protagonist, Frances’s] characters in her novel [within the novel], the pace and lessons of life are far from stagnant and [Frances] continues to forge on to a new frontier.” —Pacific Rim Review of Books
“A whimsical pleasure to read, and at times deeply felt and affecting … it will amuse and tease anyone who has ever been young, poor and confused about life. Which must be just about everyone.”
—Vancouver Sun & Calgary Herald
“As a meta-narrative about the process of writing a novel, U Girl succeeds … On the one hand, we have a universal coming-of-age story, and on the other, the vivid local setting rich in its use of detail. … In the end, we are drawn convincingly into Frances’s world.”
“Meredith Quartermain, however and as always, cannot disappoint with her new novel, U Girl. Recognition of Quartermain’s versatility leads to astonishment at her oeuvre. The contrast is sharp, for instance, between the dreamy flights of the poetic prose in I, Bartleby (her prior book, marketed as a collection of short stories) and the curt, realist prose of U Girl, which exhibits great restraint in the writing and shows Quartermain’s flexibility and mastery of her craft.”