Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Illus. by Zosia Dzierzawska
PositiveBroken FrontierBreathing pained life into these historical figures and the forces that drove them, only occasionally does Malterre-Barthes fall into the trap of writing dialogue that feels less like conversation and more like overt exposition ... Dzierzawska’s visuals are a subtle reflection of subject matter throughout. Not simply in the color coding of the different interweaving eras of Gray’s life but through more involved visual language as well. Scenes where the blueprints for the building permeate the page as characters move through them, for example, or a sequence where Gray’s artistic process is depicted as her climbing into and interacting with her architectural plans; the latter a quite brilliant representation of creativity that succeeds without seeming indulgent or overly self-aware. It’s a vibrant and occasionally dreamy style with the frequent breaks into symbolic double-page spreads speaking to the audience on an emotionally resonant level. Throughout, slightly caricatured but recognizable characters move through more realistic backgrounds, allowing us to connect with them on a very human level ... Eileen Gray: A House Under the Sun is more a book that asks us to recognize the suppression of the achievements of a pivotal voice in the arts as it is one looking to detail the minutiae of the subject’s existence ... Backed up with supplementary material it also invites the reader to investigate its subject further; a fitting aim for a book that seeks to redress a balance and give this important figure the recognition she rarely got in her own lifetime.