Honestly, I’m having a difficult time considering this a true book. It’s supposed to be a graphic novel, but it reminds me of an adult-level picture book, with huge pictures on one page, and small bits of text opposite. Normally I wouldn’t even review it (it took me all of 10 mins to read) but I chose it as part of my Graphic Novel Challenge, and thus need to write up this review. I’ll make it short.
There’s very little plot (at least that makes sense) in this book. Three sisters – Ophile, Clothilde, and Bettine – live together (though not incestuously. As far as I can tell, there’s no incest in this book at all, despite the title). Bettine falls in love with a man named Paris, Ophile is jealous and sends them away after Bettine gets pregnant, and Clothilde kind of sits off in her own little psychotic world that makes no sense at all. Ophile tries to get revenge on her sister, ends up getting her killed, Paris runs off all sad, and the baby is snatched up by circus people because he has wings (due to Clothilde giving him psychic instruction while he was in the womb). Ophile kills herself, the baby grows up, and the three remaining characters have a reunion. The ghosts join in, too.
Okay. Um. Well, I should say that I’m not in the least bit familiar with graphic novels. That’s why I’m taking the challenge. The only ones I’ve read are by Edward Gorey, and those aren’t normal. This was a lot like the Gorey books, minus the humor. I like Gorey’s humor – his creepy illustrations are balanced out by it. The sometimes-creepy illustrations in this book are not. Some of them are downright disturbing, though not at all in a realistic/graphic way. More like in a conceptual way. Like there’s a picture of a street exploding, including non-bleeding severed body parts of a baby. Yeah.
I got no pleasure out of this book. A couple of the illustrations were pretty, but not stunning, and I just kept thinking What? the whole time. I don’t get it. Niffenegger dedicated this to her sisters, and spent fourteen years putting it together, so it makes me wonder if some of these pages were inside jokes. Either way, I’m really hoping to have better luck with the other graphic novels I chose.