Friday, January 20, 2012
Graphic Novel Review: Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2008
Read Tamara Drew on The Guardian's website
Story: A modern update of Far from the Madding Crowd, Tamara Drew tells the story of "incomers," people who come to the country for the views, versus locals who actually have to live there. London columnist and incomer Tamara returns to her childhood home with a new nose and new wardrobe after her mother's death. The writers at the retreat farm next door are all in love with her except Beth who runs the retreat and manages her famous writer husband's affairs. Told over the course of a year, the story shows the routines of farm life as the humans intentionally and unintentionally hurt one another.
Thoughts: Wow. Tamara Drewe is my perfect graphic novel. It's the story of jealousy, self-destruction, rural life, celebrity, writing, and cows. It follows the first-person account of several of the characters, so we really get to know Beth, Tamara, Andy, Glen and Casey. The dialogue is witty and the characterizations realistic as everyone says the wrong thing and annoys everyone else. Pages are set up so the interior thoughts of the characters are written in paragraphs and only the dialogue is framed out in graphics panels. This is a great way to get more of the complex story into the graphic form. Tamara Drewe is definitely for adults as there is quite a bit of nudity and adult situations. I found it funny that the occasional swear words are ****'d out. One character in particular has all of his speech bubbles *****'d. I appreciated this since it made him more pathetic than offensive. These touches really added a lot of meaning into the few things each character says.
Artwork: The art is fantastic, and I loved the washed-out colors. Most of the panels are in blues with only splashes of pink or yellow for emphasis. I particularly liked the inclusion of letters and tabloid articles to fill us in on events going on in London.
Final thoughts: A fabulous novel for anyone who likes Thomas Hardy, soap operas, farm life or writing. If you haven't read graphic novels before, Tamara Drew is an excellent place to start.
Extra note: Tamara Drewe was made into a 2010 movie starring Luke Evens.
Grade: 5 out of 5