Friday, December 23, 2011
Book Review: Dotter of Her Father's Eyes
This graphic novel actually tells two stories; that of Mary Talbot and that of Lucia Joyce. Mary, the author of the graphic novel, had a tumultuous and at times an abusive upbringing. Her father was one of the leading Joycean scholars who suffered from depressive bouts and violent outbursts. Interwoven with Mary’s story is that of Lucia Joyce who has a similar relationship to her own father as Mary had to hers. For those who do not know about Lucia’s history, she was a free spirit who was misunderstood by her parents and therefore suffered a tortuous life.
There are striking similarities between Lucia and Mary who both came of age during pivotal times in history; Mary during the 1950s and 1960s right on the cusp of women’s liberation, and Lucia during the 1930s which socially mirrored that of the 1960s with changing roles for women. Yet both women are hindered by their parents’ own failed dreams and subsequent anger which kept them from encouraging their daughters. Instead, they wished to see them cloistered in a traditional setting despite the societal changes that were taken place. Both of their fathers struggled intellectually and this was played out in their troubled relationships with their daughters; forever changing their daughters’ lives.
The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and adds greatly to the story. Lucia’s story is told in illustrations that are defined but blend into each other as memories typically do. This was an interesting technique and very effective for her story. Mary’s story is told in sepia while Joyce’s story is told in shades of blue. This technique works perfectly as sepia brings to mind old photographs while shades of blue conjures up melancholy feelings which fits each story. There are images of “today” which are in full color and have very defined panels. This only adds to the feeling of remembrance in the other sections.
At under 100 pages, this graphic novel accomplishes a great deal in very little space. There is not a wasted word or image. This is quite possibly the best graphic novel I have read all year. If you know anything about me, you know that Seth is my favorite graphic novelist...well now he has some serious competition as this book rivals my love for Seth’s work. I am buying a copy for every woman, literature-lover, and historian in my life (which is basically everyone in my life...). Though I have seen this labeled as a children’s book in various places, it is far from it. It is more mild than other graphic novels but it certainly deals with issues of abuse and mental illness which is for a more advanced audience. I really think that this graphic novel will appeal to graphic novel readers and non-readers alike. The book is very approachable and the story flows easily without any jarring transitions that could throw off those who are not typically readers of graphic novels.