Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tamara Drewe

The visit of the movie Tamara Drewe to our local Art Theater reminds me how much I enjoyed the original graphic novel that inspired the film.

Posy Simmonds, additionally the author of Gemma Bovery, published her graphic novel in 2008. It was created from her long-running Guardian series of episodic cartoons based on Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd.

Tamara Drewe (the eponymous "heroine") writes a trendy newspaper column in London, featuring tales drawn from her own life among other topics. She's the catalyst for events that take off after she returns to the country on a visit--sporting a brand new nose. The book itself revolves around life in a writer's colony in Tamara's home town in the British hinterland. We meet the famous novelist and his wife, who run the facility. One writer, on sabbatical to finish his novel, chimes in with his presence and recounts the events. We encounter two young girls in the neighborhood, a fading rock drummer, and the requisite handsome, reclusive handyman/farmer. Told in multiple voices, the tale pops back and forth among the characters, creating a surprisingly complex story.

I don't think the story could have been expressed half as well if it were told only in text instead of graphic novel format. The images enhance Tamara Drewe. They're well drawn and quite realistic. (The author features Belted Galloway cows. They have white stripes around them and look like big oreos with "extra stuff".) The countryside is a true character. Lots of goats and cows and dogs and scenery.

Tamara Drewe is full of modern situations, appropriate slang, and adult , um, segments. The visual and textual elements meld together excellently, providing a multifacted reading experience. I'm looking forward to the movie, so I can compare and contrast the different emphases of storyline and vision.

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