Hey all, Dani here.
Today’s review comes with a tiny bit of a disclaimer. I was contacted at the end of November by Korero Press because they had seen my content on Mousai Books and thought that I would be interested in reading and reviewing one of their newer graphic novel releases. It sounded pretty interesting to me, so they sent me over a digital copy. So yes, I did receive a free copy of this in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to Korero Press for sending me a copy of Horizontal Collaboration by Mademoiselle Navie and illustrated by Carole Maurel.
Let’s jump into the review.
“Horizontal Collaboration” is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic relationships that some French women had with members of the occupying German forces during World War II. In this poignant, female-centered graphic novel created by writer/artist duo Carole Maurel and Mademoiselle Navie, the taboo of “sleeping with the enemy” is explored through the story of a passionate, and forbidden, affair. In June 1942, married Rose (whose husband is a prisoner of war) intervenes in the detainment of her Jewish friend and then accidentally embarks on a secret relationship with the investigating German officer, Mark. There is only one step between heroism and treason, and it’s often a dangerous one. Inside an apartment building on Paris’s 11th arrondissement, little escapes the notice of the blind husband of the concierge. Through his sightless but all-knowing eyes, we learn of Rose and Mark’s hidden relationship, and also of the intertwined stories and problems of the other tenants, largely women and children, who face such complex issues as domestic violence, incest, and prostitution. This fascinating graphic novel tackles the still-sensitive topic of who it is acceptable to love, and how, and the story’s drama is brought vividly to life by intimate and atmospheric illustrations.
Rating: 4 stars
I read this entire book in one evening, most of it while I was enjoying my dinner. So I can very easily say that I was drawn into the story. There were quite a few characters, and each had their own smaller stories in the overall tapestry of the entire tale, and it was really interesting to see how everything tied in together.
Honestly, I can say that I learned some things by reading this. I actually hadn’t heard about horizontal collaboration, and therefore I hadn’t thought about what that meant for the people involved as well as those around them. I thought it was pretty cool that the story was in essence told by the blind husband of the concierge, because without sight he sees far more than the others do for a while.
This graphic novel does follow some intense and complex issues, like domestic violence, incest, prostitution, and who it is and is not acceptable to love. These are issues that are still fairly relevant today, but it was interesting to see them in the context of World War II.
I also liked that the art style was simple yet vibrant. I think it worked quite well for the historical drama story that was being told. I can definitely say that I will be buying myself a copy of this read, because it is one that I can see myself re-reading in the future. I find that I pick up even more details with each and every time I read something.
Where to Get a Copy
You can get your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore.
You can also check with your local library.