Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind Penfold

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Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind Penfold

Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A brilliant book that should not exist. A brilliant book with the most predictable plot and dialogue. A brilliant book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: January 2006
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007216888

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So, a five star book where we can predict the entire plot, and at times foretell just what people in it say. It's a damning indictment of things that that is even possible.

This book lives by its subtitle – this is what an abusive relationship looks like. Rosalind meets a man who seems nigh-on perfect – they seem to fall in love with ease, and she gets on very well with his four children from an earlier marriage. Then odd occurrences start to happen – he declares her work getting in his way, he possibly drinks a bit too much, he sees flirting in her shop-talk with other men. And things escalate and escalate, and – you know every stage. She suffers a guilt trip, before suffering physical violence, discovering affairs, getting back with him, then finding the right kind of help.

There is a little bit of me that wanted to give this book five stars anyway. Any book that opens this kind of subject matter up with any success to a new format as this does must be welcomed. As much as people may scoff at graphic novels and what they do and don't do for the reader, there is no reason to denigrate the honesty we get here, and the valuable contribution a book like this does in making the sufferer of domestic violence more visibly human, more visibly wronged, more visibly undefeatably clever.

I will admit I wasn't quite convinced by the initial set-up, that this was a therapeutic hobby of the creator, produced and stock-piled in a secret safe place throughout as some form of diary for later confirmation. It has clearly been edited since, both visually (the shading looks computerised) and as regards captioning, but when we come to talk of the artwork there is nothing to fault.

The basic concept of the page might be one or two pictures (some more rough and ready than others), or a host of quick, basic, talking-head style self-analyses provided by thought-bubbles. Throughout it is all done in a very basic way, with strong black line, some etching or shading, and an almost cartoonish way of creating recognisable character with very quick, simple inkwork. But when it does get away from that, providing the more emotional full-page splashes towards the end, or for instance distorting into negative, there come plenty more reasons for this to get five stars.

Of course, I would wish this book need never be created. I wish the whole artificial persona of Rosalind B Penfold was not needed, nor that the website one comes across when you google her name did not have so many people testifying how strongly honest and valuable this book was. In reality, of course, there are far too many Rosalinds, in too many countries – there have been several translations of this book in a quick three years – and far too many people who might need to fall on this story and find it helpful. I only humbly write this in case it helps someone else stumble in the right direction.

Before I sound like someone who has just fallen for a book because it is in a worthy cause, there is nothing worthy about this book. The story, as familiar as it is, is strongly narrative, and wears its strong emotions lightly. The book's success boils down to the honesty and scope for insight such a personal style and closeness give it. There is nothing to fault in this book bar the acts that caused it.

To look at other abusive relationships we can recommend Wednesday's Child by Shane Dunphy and A Secret Madness by Elaine Bass.

Buy Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind Penfold at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind Penfold at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind Penfold at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dragonslippers: This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like by Rosalind Penfold at Amazon.com.


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