2014 · 3 stars · graphic novel

Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu

Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu
Pub. Date: May 5, 2015 (orig. April, 2010)
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (thank you, First Second!!)
Summary: Zoe isn’t exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn’t recognize world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment…and into his life. It’s also why she doesn’t know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as “lost manuscripts,” in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she’s there anyway. . . . Zoe doesn’t know Balzac from Batman, but she’s going to have to wise up fast… because she’s sitting on the literary scandal of the century!
Genre: Humor, Romance, Graphic Novel
Recommended for: Fans of light-hearted comedies and charming artwork

Zoe is twenty-two and going nowhere fast. She has a crummy job at an ad agency and it’s not unusual for her to take a gig only to be felt up by sleezy men. Her home life isn’t any better: her boyfriend is a total slob and only looks for work when he needs some quick cash. The girls Zoe works with are only working in order to pay for school, while Zoe’s simply stuck where she is. One day, while feeling sorry for herself, she sits on a park bench and meets the eye of a man in an apartment building a few stories up. Had Zoe been a reader, she would have realized this man was the famous author Thomas Rocher…the famous author who had supposedly died a few years back.

When Thomas slowly came to the realization his books weren’t the bestsellers they once were, he came up with a plan with his editor (and then-wife). They would fake his death and, sure enough, his books were soon flying off the shelves. A “discovered” manuscript led to yet another bestseller and a few more “unearthed” novels made their way into the public eye. Now, however, Thomas lost his spark. His inspiration ran dry, that is, until the day he met Zoe. Suddenly the words began to flow and soon he has what could be his magnum opus, his best work yet.

Exquisite Corpse was absolutely lovely! The artwork was totally charming and Thomas has a cat named Gatsby. Yes, please! ALSO, the entire novel is set in Paris. Need I say more?? Almost instantaneously Zoe leaves her crappy life to live with Thomas and, while I would have loved a little more time spent developing their relationship (it literally goes from the pair meeting to them living together with a two-month jump in time – as a reader I want to get the behind-the-scenes look into their lives!) I have to say I really enjoyed them. Okay, so Thomas is a decade or two older and kind of scruffy but I was on board!

The ending kind of threw me though. Okay, guys. I try to avoid spoilers, but the blurb completely ruined most of the twists, so here goes it: Zoe’s revenge is delightfully evil – especially because there’s nothing Thomas could do to refute her claims without announcing to the world that he faked his death. So for that, bravo, Zoe! That said, Agathe (the ex-wife/editor) and Zoe fly off to a remote island, completely in love. Um, where did that come from?? At no point did the novel suggest any attraction between the pair or any romantic connection between either woman and another female. I’m all for GLBT themes, but this came out of nowhere and I didn’t quite get it.

Apart from the ending, I adored Exquisite Corpse! Between the fantastic art and the subtle details in the background (Gatsby the Cat has some seriously spectacular reactions), reading this was a breeze. While reading, I actually thought it was work well as a full-length novel – I would LOVE to read a thriller-esque take on this. The revenge plot in particular would be incredible. This comic is definitely worth the fifteen minutes it takes to read and I’m hoping for more translations of Bagieu’s works!


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