Saturday, 18 June 2016

Josephine, Volume 1 by Penelope Bagieu Review

Josephine is a middle-class thirtysomething modern Parisian woman on the lookout for her true love. Ah, la vie en rose! 

Penelope Bagieu’s charming French comic is a series of one page lightly comedic strips from Josephine’s life gently commenting on the perils of modern dating and the pressures exerted on women from society on how to look, to get married and have children - but it’s mostly just fun! 

Josephine has a complex about her looks, thinking she has too big a bum and too small breasts, her older sister obnoxiously lords her marriage, wealth and family over her, and there’s a lot of clothes jokes - stuff not fitting, having too much stuff, overpaying for a pretty bag, etc. 

The heavy focus on women looking a certain way is a large part of why Josephine is so neurotic - she’s got to buy these cosmetics, do her hair a certain way, work on her legs, buy cellulite cream, find a man, have a kid and have a career all by a certain age. But Bagieu keeps it bouncy and playful without getting on a soapbox which makes for a pleasant read.

Some of the jokes are a little weak (“He didn’t remember our three month anniversary!”) and the clothes jokes were a bit meh, but generally I found the sketches amusing and the rude delivery man bit did make me laugh out loud. 

Bagieu has created a very likeable protagonist in Josephine with a delightful supporting cast and world that’s also beautifully drawn. She’s like a French Bridget Jones or a female Monsieur Jean! Josephine Volume 1 is a delightful first book that’s hooked me into reading the whole series - like Dupuy/Berberian’s Jean, I must know how Josephine’s story plays out! Well worth checking out if you’re looking for a breezy read that gently satirises modern thirtysomething women’s lifestyles in a way that’s appealing to both genders.

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