War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. And that’s the truth dear reader, not just a catchy song lyric. It’s pointless and messy. So many lives lost. An endless battles of wills and ego that tears nations apart, leaving the lands drenched in blood and rotting flesh. We are all human yet fight as animals, monsters, instruments of destruction capable of so easily destroying life. We take no prisoners only those of the heart because being in love is the most dangerous weapon of all.
Today I am on the blog tour for Horizontal Collaboration (Published 18 Jun. 2019) By Navie & Carole Maurel. A big thank you to the publishers Korero Press for my copy to review, always appreciated. And of course to the lovely Anne for the invite, thank you!
About The Authors
Carole Maurel cut her teeth on animated films before devoting herself to illustration, in particular, graphic novels. Her 2017 book The Apocalypse According to Magda was awarded the Artémisia Avenir award, which celebrates women in comics.
Navie is a screenwriter for press, cinema and television. She has a degree in history from The Sorbonne in Paris, where she specialized in the history of fascism – making Horizontal Collaboration an excellent fit for her first graphic novel.
“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.
My heart is still recovering from unexpectedly being submerged by the torment of anguished love that is Horizontal Collaboration. It brutally puts things into perspective, how fortunate and privileged we are today. The story opens in the present with Virginie telling her Grandmother that she is scared to tell a boy she thinks he’s the one. Before we know it we are whisked back to the 1940’s, a drastically different world. Young boys are being forced to sign up for war and Jews are in hiding fearing for their lives. Our generation has never had to fight like those before us. We don’t have to watch our comrades being blown to pieces from a landmine or listen to the sound of the bombs dropping from overhead. It made me realise how much we take for granted, our basic human needs and rights. It tore me apart knowing that this was a real time and many people suffered unnecessarily. Today you hear people moaning about no wifi access in a Starbucks…how the times have changed. This book made me look around and focus on the things that matter, the beauty and love that surrounds us daily. We just need to look up once in a while.
“Fight for your ideas and keep your secrets close…that’s how you will survive. And adopt a cat. That keeps the really mad ones away.”
I couldn’t help but be reminded of Rear Window at points as I watched the multiple stories unfold through the apartment block windows. It was intense and I felt intrusive as the facades of each character melted away behind closed doors. In a time of war and death, knowing who to trust was a constant fear. If you placed it in the wrong hands it could sign your death sentence. This was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode as the tension builds on each page which made for gripping storytelling.
The illustrations are a beauty to behold. I could honestly sit and stare at them all day, they are breathtaking and elegantly dance across the page. The amount of fine detail adds to the disturbing realism of the time. They capture the mixture of emotions that bewilderedly stumbled the streets. Simply magnifique.
When you learn about war in school, it’s often focused on the men doing the fighting. (which is extremely honourable in its own right) But it’s a rarity that we are shown the women’s perspective, the ones left behind forcing themselves to carry on. They are silently holding down the fort at home, keeping things in order and looking out for each other. It was empowering to read and I respected the bravery of the women that took centre stage.
“Men can keep their right to vote…this country would go to the dogs without us women, anyway.”
The reader only gets to see fleeting glimpses of Rose and Mark’s forbidden relationship, but it’s all we need. You can see and feel the love they have for each other. The romantic montage of them going to the fair has very little dialogue and its a perfect snapshot of their relationship. Words are not needed, you just have to look and you know.
“Dying is nothing compared to holding back ‘I love you’.”
The themes throughout are dark and still relatable today, domestic abuse, prostitutes and war with each other, be it the government or troops in Iraq. We humans always seem to be fighting some sort of battle. Horizontal Collaboration shows the fight at home and within the people around us, lies, paranoia and deception. Sleeping with the enemy has never been more apparent.
I applaud Navie & Maurel’s choice to use extracts from speeches such as the appeal of 18th June speech made to the French people. It placed you there, in the moment. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for the people, a traumatic time to be alive.
I’ll be honest dear reader, towards the end I was a mess. So many what-ifs and missed chances. The raw pain and emotion captured in the illustrations and dialogue is gracefully heart-rending. Just thinking about it all over again is already bringing the tears on. Words are not enough to describe it, you have to experience this story for yourself.
“Everyday I’ve envied all the women in this building. Especially their bravery.”
I give Horizontal Collaboration By Navie & Carole Maurel a Four out of Five paw rating.
This book broke me and made me appreciate how easy and lucky my generation has it. It opened my eyes to not take everything for granted and be grateful for being able to speak my mind, chose who to love and follow my passion. I have a choice that has not been snatched away from me. I choose to live.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below enjoy!
Hop hop wiggle wiggle