Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds
|Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A superb graphic novel with a masterly plot and excellent characterisation from the marvellous Posy Simmonds. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 112||Date: November 2007|
|Publisher: Jonathan Cape|
Tamara Drewe is not the woman she used to be. Plastic surgery has altered the shape of her nose and with a trendy wardrobe she has all the confidence she needs. She quickly captivates the local men when she returns to Ewedown to clear her mother's house after her recent death. Everyone, male and female, seems to be drawn to Tamara. Well, everyone except Beth Hardiman.
Beth is married to Nicholas Hardiman, crime writer, liar and adulterer. Apart from that he's a charming man who endears himself to the writers who stay in the retreat which Beth runs at their home, Stonefield. He never mentions his own successes - the sales, the advances and all the TV adaptations of his literary detective, Doctor Inchcombe. He never mentions how much Beth does for him either, and certainly not that Inchcombe was her invention.
Throw in the archetypal rock star (possibly slightly fading) who moves in with Tamara but who is the object of lust of one of the local teenagers, a gardener who works at Stonefield for Beth but who seems to spend his time at Tamara's house - digging the garden to 'keep an eye on the house whilst she's away' - and there are all the ingredients for farce, trouble and tragedy.
Before I started writing this review I made some notes and the first of these is 'remember to say that it's a graphic novel'. Given that the author and illustrator is the marvellous Posy Simmonds that might seem a rather obvious thing to say, but as I read the book I found that I forgot. The story is told partly in words and partly in pictures. The one doesn't simply illustrate the other as is so often the case - they embellish, elucidate and tempt you into seeing further possibilities in the story.
And what a story it is too. I've seen far too many graphic novels where the illustrations did little more than pad out a poor story, but that's certainly not the case here. I didn't see the ending coming and I really couldn't see how it would all work out as tragedy piled on tragedy - but it did. The characters are all people you can warm to, even Nicholas who got rather more than his comeuppance. Posy Simmonds has an ear for dialogue. I loved the teenage girls discussing with whom they would like to lose their 'V plates' and she has the chats between the different authors at the retreat perfectly. She knows human foibles and draws them with a wickedly sharp pen.
The illustrations are superb, each lovingly crafted and individual. I never had a sense of something being reused or corners cut as is so often the case in graphic novels. They're simple, unfussy and marvellously evocative. The facial expressions are masterly - Tamara's sultry expression as she appears in the briefest of shorts, Andy's frowning concern at the abandoned Beth or Nick's complacency as he basks in the glow of the authors' admiration. They're full of little quirks - just look at the cover and you'll see what I mean!
I read this book over a couple of evenings and I've been back and reread parts. The test of a good novel, graphic or otherwise, is whether or not you would want to read it again and here the problem is not a reluctance to reread but putting it down again once you pick it up. It's a book to buy, to keep and to enjoy. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.