My last night in Chicago for six weeks, and unseasonably warm for December.
I was first introduced to the entertaining Lucy Knisley last year when I read her book Relish (review here). I completely adored her quirky writing and accompanying illustration style and found Relish so accessible and effortless that it wasn’t long before I set out in search of more, turning my attention to her back catalogue.
French Milk is Knisley’s debut into the world of graphic novels and it follows the 22 year-old Knisley as she embarks on a 6-week stay in Paris with her foodie mum.
French Milk has a charmingly naïve style, reading and presented like an illustrated holiday journal or travelogue rather than a traditional memoir. Knisley is like a giddy schoolchild showing you her spoils – telling you what she did every day, drawing all of her holiday purchases, describing where she went and how she felt. It took a little while for me to get used to this more primitive style and voice because it felt so different to the polished and composed narrator I loved in Relish so lovers of the more developed Knisley, be warned – this is a different beast.
The benefits to Knisley’s early naive journalistic narrative is how effortlessly the excitement of the Parisian streets and the enthusiasm for that beautiful city comes across. You will have to forgive the occasional bout of late teenage angst – we’ve all had it at some point! – because beneath the surface is an interesting view of an immersive experience of life in the French capital. French Milk genuinely had me on the verge of packing my bags and heading to Paris again – or at least looking into booking a flat there for New Year’s (I even went so far as asking the boy about doing this one day!)
If you’re coming to graphic novels or Knisley’s work for the first time, French Milk is a fab introduction – though far from perfect, it is light-hearted, easy to read and will immerse and whisk you to the French capital before you can say croissant!