Friday, 13 January 2012
The House That Groaned by Karrie Fransman
It's 141 Rottin Road. 'A cosy, one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a charming Victorian conversion. Newly decorated and with a separate kitchen and reception room. Located just a bus ride away from a wide range of shops, restaurants and bars'. Welcome to The House that Groaned and the six lonely inhabitants of its separate flats, characters so at odds with themselves and their bodies that they could only have stepped out of the pages of a comic novel. There's Barbara, our make-up artist heroine and man-made blonde bombshell; Matt, the photographic retoucher who can't touch; Janet, the tormented dietician; twenty-something Brian, the diseaseophile whose sexual penchant takes him to the edge of perversion; old Mrs Durbach, who literally blends in to the background; and, the gloriously fleshy and hedonistic Marion, matriarch of the Midnight Feasters. Behind the house's anonymous facade, the building is decaying. As pipes explode and walls collapse, events force the residents out of their doors and into each others lives - with dramatic consequences. Exploring the themes of body image, sexuality and the loneliness and isolation of contemporary urban life, "The House that Groaned" is a modern-day fairy tale full of magic realism and farcical symbolism which will woo both comic fans and attract new readers to the medium.
When I saw the cover of this book, I was instantly attracted to it. it is a clever cover, a double cover. The first being the outside of the house, with the windows cut out and the second cover being the inside of the house, each of the eight 'apartments' being a separate dwelling, each with their own style and individual resident.
I will also admit, that I didn't realise that it was a graphic novel. However, this was a pleasant surprise. i don't usually read graphic novels, thinking of them as comics for grown ups. I was unsure how I would get on with it, not expecting to like it - however much I liked the synopsis I had already read.
I was, however, pleasantly surprised. It was a quick read, and a funny read. We get to meet each of the eight residents, including the 'Do or Diet Club Leader', Barbara, the new resident, and Brian, from number one, to name but a few. They are a mad mix of people to all be under on 'communal roof' and their antics in the book have to be read to be believed.
I would say this is a book that I believe would appeal to men rather than women, but that is just my opinion, women may enjoy it too. It is rather 'adult' content though and not one to leave around for youngsters to flick through.
I will say that I thought the artwork throughout the book was fantastic, great comical cartoon drawing and the dark colour scheme of bluey green (teal?), black and white throughout was perfect for this book.
Thank you to the publishers, Square Peg, part of Random House, for sending me the book to review.