Exquisite Corpse – Pénélope Bagieu

March 9, 2018 § Leave a comment

First published in the French in 2010
Translated into the English by Alexis Siegel in 2015


Zoe is a young woman who works as a product model. She also has a boyfriend who she lives with and goes home to everyday after work. The thing is, though, that Zoe isn’t particularly happy with her job—it can be extremely demeaning, and she can’t seem to see where it might lead to in the future. Her relationship with her boyfriend is also not a very fulfilling one—she’s not getting the love and attention that she craves for, and he doesn’t seem to care less how she is feeling.

It is at this point when Zoe, while sitting on a bench eating her lunch, sees a man peeking out of his window. She walks to this man’s apartment, asking to borrow his toilet, and an odd sort of friendship kindles from this chance meeting.

As it turns out, the man is an extremely established author, Thomas Rocher, though Zoe doesn’t know this because she’s not only not a keen reader, she’s also (gasp!) never been to a bookstore before. Oddly enough, this seems to put Thomas at ease, and their relationship starts to grow, and very soon, Zoe is living with him.

Thomas showers her with everything she could ever want in a relationship—love, attention, surprises. But the rule about things that seem too good to be true is that they are often just that—too good to be true. Soon, Zoe notices a glaring oddity in their relationship—they never leave the house. And one night, when she wakes up to find that Thomas is sitting in the kitchen with an unknown woman, Zoe learns that she has somehow gotten entangled in something she has never imagined possible.

It’s a fun graphic novel to read. The art is simple but very impactful at the same time, the use of colours very deliberate (I feel), which lend certain emotions to the panels and pages. The story itself, though not very eventful, is rather fast-paced and contains twists in some unexpected places.

I’ve been reading a couple of heavier books recently, and this graphic novel was a rather welcome interruption.


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