Illustrated by Alexis Vitrebert
This story of Versailles is told from the perspective of Henri de Nolhac, son of Pierre de Nolhac, who came to be a steward of the palace during the Third French Republic. This is not Versailles during the time of kings and queens. This is Versailles as it was just beginning to be appreciated as an historical masterpiece, and thanks in large part to the dedication of Pierre. But, the demands of restoring the palace took a toll on the family life of Pierre, which is also included in great detail. This story also includes how Versailles morphed during the Great War, changing from a monument to a refuge for wounded soldiers and a place of gathering for Christmas celebrations and the like. Extensive end-notes provide more historical context for the de Nolhac family and the source materials for the creative team.
Historical stories can sometimes be presented very dryly, and there is a bit of that in this story. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating time in the history of Versailles that gets glossed over frequently because of its proximity to World War I. The de Nolhac family was large and some of the children play so minor a role that I couldn't really distinguish them by the end, but son Henri, our narrator, provides an interesting lens for viewing his father's dedication to the palace.
Vetrebert purposefully chose black and white, a mixture of inks and watercolors, to illustrate this volume. While I missed the colors and brilliance of Versailles, the effect makes this story more in line with the source material, which is now all black and white or sepia from age.
Overall, this story would be wonderful for any enthusiast of French history or person interested in the history of Versailles. Humanoids does not have a rating, but this story would be suitable for high school audiences given the elevated narrative tone and prerequisite knowledge of French history and World War I.
Sara's Rating: 7/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Net Galley. This graphic novel will be on sale September 22, 2020.
Tags: Rating: 7/10, Suitability: High School, Graphic Nonfiction, History, War
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