Title: The Wolves of La Louvière
Author: Flore Balthazar
Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, WWII
Source: Free ARC from Europe Comics
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Europe Comics via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
“Belgium, 1940. The German army is spreading across Europe, and tiny Belgium is conquered in 18 days. During the four long years of the Nazi occupation, the women of La Louvière have to figure out some way to stay alive, to live their lives, and to keep up hope. Their world is drawn through teenage Marcelle’s journal: What does she do? How do her family members endure? Which women in town collaborate with the occupying forces, and which women choose to fight? As always in wartime, the women take over for the absent men and keep their world spinning.”
While I’ve long been interested in reading more graphic novels, I haven’t found any that appealed (outside of The Walking Dead, which I really enjoy), until now. Historical fiction in this format really works for me. And calling it historical fiction is a bit of a stretch because the story is based on a real family, and much of what takes place actually happened. However, because names were changed and some adjustments made, historical fiction it is.
The illustrations, which are critical in a format that is defined by them, are great. Warm, neutral, natural colors combined with realistic lines gives an appropriate sense of realism to the story. Because the subject matter is rather heavy, it feels important that seriousness be honored graphically, while also instilling a sense of hope. Job well done.
As someone who loves history, and this period in general, I typically find history books to be dry and swamped with military minutiae that makes my eyelids feel heavy. The graphic novel format seems like a fabulous way to talk about critical historical moments, in a memorable and widely accessible way. Definitely hope to see more like this in the future (and to find what already exists!).