#BookReview: The Reprieve by Jean-Pierre Gibrat

Historical Graphic Novel
War Era Historical

Le sursis Series #1 - 2

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Meet Cecile as she tries to help escaped prisoner-of-war Julien Sarlat avoid capture during the Occupation of France in 1943 in this prequel to the award-winning graphic novel, Flight of the Raven.

Julien has escaped from a prisoner-of-war train headed for Germany, but fate intervenes when the train is bombed and among the victims, a body is identified as his. Dead to the world, he takes advantage of the situation and hides in the small village of Cambeyrac, using his secret observation post overlooking the village square to watch the permanent theater that people offer in the course of the day. Loves, hatreds, jealousies, cowardice, acts of heroism... nothing escapes the observer's eye, especially not the beautiful waitress Cecile. Until the moment comes when, spectator no more, he must become an actor himself and meet his destiny. This hidden life he had hoped to live was just a reprieve. The book also includes a portfolio of pin-ups and sketches featuring its heroine.

Have you ever had post book depression? That feeling of not wanting a story to end? That's how I felt on finishing Flight of the Raven. Under normal circumstances, I'd have been left high and dry by the emotion, but as luck would have it, Jean-Pierre Gibrat wrote and published a prequel narrative. So, like any good book addict, I tracked it down.

In terms of scale, I found The Reprieve less diverse than Flight of the Raven, but the story itself is far more emotional and thematic. I found its comments on bravery - notably that of Paul and Basil - particularly poignant and I greatly enjoyed the communal aspect of the narrative with its emphasis on the people of Cambeyrac the tension that marked their every day lives.

The character arc of Gibrat’s protagonist, Julian, is slow to develop and strikes an equally thought-provoking chord. His observations and experiences center on a number complex questions, ideas that challenge the reader to consider concepts greater than right and wrong. I can’t say too much without giving the story away, but suffice it to say his journey proved both intriguing and memorable. 

Note: The books can be reading independently, but for the record, I recommend tackling the titles in chronological order to avoid spoilers. 

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Obtained from: Personal Library
Read: July 2, 2018

And in the end, that's the difference between us... you were fighting to win the war, and I was just hoping for a little more time! It's not nearly so brave, but the costs are the same...