Page 45 Review by Stephen
Dappled! Don't you just love dappled? I do!
This is dappled both inside and out, the shadows falling throughout, cast by thinning fig leaves in a low, late summer light or by bushier trees under a sun which sits much taller in the sky, earlier in the season and several decades ago, when the family's patriarch first bought the plot and then built the house. The shadow of his own presence looms large too.
Quiet and contemplative, two brothers and a sister gather with their spouses and reflect - together and independently - on their deceased father and his cherished holiday cottage that they too now have to tend to. In their father's absence, the titular house is still in possession of stunning views, but it's grown decidedly dilapidated without his constant pottering and maintenance.
When their Dad ambles back into THE HOUSE's narrative, each panel's like a postcard from the past, or a sunlit holiday photograph carefully mounted using those transparent triangular corners in an old landscape album.
Each sibling's approach to the grounds' restoration - and their reactions to those different approaches - is telling. Something is simmering below the surface, and has been since their dear dad departed. So while sweeping the leaves and cleaning the pool, the siblings disturb some previously unspoken emotional detritus too.
The arid environment could not play better to Paco Roca's love of texture shaded inside crisp, clean lines. There's the desiccated, deep-ridged bark of the larger trees which I can feel, thick, between my fingers; the stony ground they spring from, hard and knobbly under bare feet, and I don't think those leaves are deciduous.
The creator of WRINKLES is also a dab-hand at age, whether it's the slight stoop of shoulders on top of a less flexible back, perhaps the slight squint of the eyes in less forgiving lights, or the medium weight of a paunch.
I love this sort of generational exploration and enjoyed Cyril Pedrosa's rich, three-tiered PORTUGAL so much we made it Page 45's Comicbook Of The Month a couple of years ago. Families can usually be relied on for some fine, fraught tension followed by revelation, can't they!
Warning: reading this book may leave you wanting to put up a pergola, then grow some leafy vines.
Do you think they'll sell?