Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Dotter of her Father Eyes by Mary & Bryan Talbot

Dotter is a fascinating illustrated memoir of Mary Atherton Talbot. Mary is the daughter of James Atherton who was a noted  James Joyce scholar.

Mary grows up in a boisterous home of five children. Her mother is a traditional 50s housewife trapped in a life of silence and quiet resentment.

Her father is a literary genius whose only attention towards her is sarcastic comments and belittling opinions towards all she holds dear.

This graphic novel is gorgeously illustrated by Mary's husband Brian Talbot. I've been a fan of Talbot's art for a long time. It's amazing the emotions art can invoke in a memoir. Brian uses different color palettes and shading to convey the emotions of the characters and the time periods.

As Mary reflects on her past she finds herself drawn towards the life of Lucia Joyce. As Mary shares the experiences of her life the reader also learns about Lucia's tortured life.

Both of these women lived lives dominated by the expectations of their father's and the limitations of their sex during their respective time periods.

I didn't know anything about Lucia Joyce but I'm now fascinated by her. I was especially drawn to Lucia's career as a dancer. She even developed a form of Dance Therapy, a form of healing the body through physical movement.

Lucia however was trapped by her family's demands. Though 22 years old she is ordered to return to England with her parents and looses her office and her career.

Mary however is a woman of the sixties. She breaks free of her family and builds a life with Brian.

Such an intimate powerful revelation of two women's lives. The Graphic Novel format fits this memoir perfectly.

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