‘Horizontal Collaboration’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Horizontal Collaboration, a graphic novel originally published in French, written by Navie and illustrated by Carole Maurel. I haven’t read a lot of graphic novels but they’ve been catching my eye lately (particularly thanks to bloggers with great recommendations, such as the lovely Sara!) So I took a chance on this one when I was offered a copy for review and I’m really glad I did.

horizontal collaboration


synopsis

“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 thoughtsAs I mentioned in my introduction, I haven’t read many graphic novels but I’m going to do my best to review this one well because it deserves it. I’ll start by talking about the art itself since obviously that is a large percentage of the story.

Before I even started reading, I flicked through the pages and I was struck by the beauty of the colour scheme. The neutrals and muted tones really added to the book and allowed the story to shine. There were, however, pops of brighter citrus colours at appropriate moments, which I loved because they added emphasis to important plot points.

The illustrations were also really beautiful. I’ve photographed a couple of my favourite spreads for you to see!

Now in terms of the story, I thought this was a very unique take on a period of history that has been written about often. I have a soft spot for WWII fiction but I acknowledge that the market is somewhat saturated. However, this is the first time I have read about that era from this perspective. Navie captures the innocence of children, the hardships of war and the complexities of loveless marriages with nuance.

I will admit that I would occasionally lose my bearings while reading, as the scenes would change very quickly and without warning. I don’t think it helped that I was tired while reading though! I was able to sort things out in my mind without too much difficulty and didn’t have any problems understanding what was going on.

Finally, I enjoyed how the characters’ stories all interlinked and I was impressed with the amount of empathy the author and illustrator were able to evoke from me in such a short amount of pages. The ending was very poignant.

I definitely recommend this one to fans of WWII fiction! Thank you to the publisher and Anne Cater/Random Things Tours for providing me with a free copy!

horizontal collab


If you’re interested in this one, keep an eye open for the rest of the stops on the tour!

Horizontal Collaboration BT Poster .jpg


Can you recommend some more graphic novels that I should try? I think I’ve got the bug now! xsignature (2)

7 thoughts on “‘Horizontal Collaboration’ spoiler-free review!

  1. I haven’t read a whole lot of graphic novels and I have to say, when I do, I prefer the soft contemporaries and romances ahah – some of my favorites are Heartstopper (Alice Oseman) and Bloom (Kevin Panetta), but ahh these illustrations look lovely, I’d love to see them in a real physical copy haha 🙂
    Wonderful review, Alex, I’m really happy you had a great time reading this one 🙂

    Like

  2. Oh I love WWII fiction as well! Glad to hear this was mostly a nice a read, and I do love the art – which is vital for me to be able to enjoy any graphic novel (yup, even if the story and characters are absolutely brilliant, bad art will turn me off).
    It sounds like a wonderful take on an otherwise difficult and controversial subject. I also like that it has a nice fresh feel to it and doesn’t just regurgitate the same old story and perspective. I’m a real sucker for the forbidden aspect of war relationships, so I can totally see the appeal.
    Amazing review, Alex, and I love your piano/music theme so much! ❤

    Like

    • I totally agree – if I don’t find it pleasing to look at, then I’m not going to enjoy the story. I definitely recommend you giving this one a try!

      Thank you so much, you have no idea what that means to me! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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