**Disclaimer: I received a free early access review copy of Versailles: My Father’s Palace in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this opportunity.
Versailles: My Father’s Palace by Maite Labat, Jean-Baptiste Verber, and illustrated by Alexis Vitrebert is a historical fiction graphic novel set in France during the late 1800s to early 1900s. The story features a piece of history of one of France’s most iconic historical sites while intermingling the discussion of family relationships. It has beautiful artwork. It releases on September 22nd. I gave it three stars on Goodreads.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
A fascinating historical biography of the man who brought fame, grandeur and revolution back to the Palace of Versailles.
Henri de Nolhac grew up without a father…though his father, Pierre, was very much alive and working mere meters away from their home at the Palace of Versailles.
Once appointed to the Palace in 1887, Pierre de Nolhac dedicated his life to protecting its historical archives and restoring Versailles to its former glory: an agora of politics, art and culture. But it soon became more than a passion to him–it turned into an obsession, and the closer he got to Versailles, the further he drifted from his family and himself.
I was so excited when I read about the concept of this graphic novel. I hadn’t really read anything set in this period of time in France, and I didn’t know about this part of Versailles history and Versailles is a place that has always fascinated me. I wanted to know more and quickly requested it. I was so excited when I got approved.
The best part of this entire graphic novel is the art. The character design and backgrounds and everything about graphic aspect of it is absolutely gorgeous. I liked how the illustrator conveyed the characters and their emotions. If I was just looking at art work, I would probably give the graphic novel a 5/5 stars. However, I wasn’t just looking at the art, I was also looking at the story.
Before I get into the story, I will say that overall I had a good time reading this graphic novel. I enjoyed the overall idea of it, and as I mentioned the artwork was beautiful. However, certain parts of the story weren’t quite what I hoped.
Firstly, I wanted more detail and more depth to the story. It was a short graphic novel so I shouldn’t have expected as much as I did, but I really was hoping that there would just be more in general to the story. I wanted more family dynamics and more Versailles. There was a lack of development that just really disappointed me. I wanted the story to be longer, and while I enjoyed what was there, some of it felt a little bit jumpy.
I also found myself a little confused by the inclusion of the son of the son of the main subject of the book. It seemed like an unnecessary layer to add to the books, and mostly I just wanted to focus on the story from the past. I didn’t need the extra narrative layer to know why the story was being written down now of all times. I really just wanted the story.
However, I did find myself intrigued by the dynamics of the de Nohlac family. I enjoyed seeing scenes from their history and from when they moved to the palace and as things continued on and the children grew up. I thought it was really very neat that they got to live in the palace while their father worked to restore it and I felt for them as they felt like their father had no time for him because he was too consumed with the palace. You really did feel for the family and their struggles over the course of the story.
Overall, I had a good time reading this book, and while I do wish that it had had some more development in places, I still highly recommend it and think it’s worth checking out when it publishes on September 22nd.