Alison | Lizzy Stewart #GraphicNovel

My name is Alison Porter and I began my life, in 1958, in Bridport, Dorset. My parents had grown up in Dorset, and their parents before them. My dad worked in the local bank and my mum did repairs and alterations for a nearby dressmaker. My brother, Michael, was four years older than me. We were almost friends growing up. Almost, but not quite.

I don’t read many graphic novels, but every now and again one crosses my path that intrigues me. Alison by Lizzy Stewart first hit my radar at the end of winter. I read a review, either on a blog or bookish news page that flagged this one as being something a bit special. I looked into it and discovered it was due for publication in Australia in October. I liked what I saw, so popped a few on order.

The next day, customers visiting from Melbourne asked me if we had it in store.

I love it when these moments happen in the shop – when I can sound super-knowledgable and on-the-ball re obscure new releases. I asked them how they knew about it. They had been in London earlier in the year and read it whilst visiting with their daughter. They were so impressed they decided they wanted to give a copy to their other daughter who lived in Sydney. They were delighted I had it on order and urged me to read it straight away.

The straight away part didn’t quite happen, but the week before Christmas was the perfect time for an illustrated story.

As you can see from the images, the story is a mixture of narrative text, speech boxes, letters, drawings and paintings, creating a scrapbook effect.

Curiously, as I was reading and gazing my way through Alison, I felt it had to be autobiographical; the emotional tone was so nuanced, so precise, so spot-on, it had to be real. However, a quick search revealed that Stewart was nowhere near old enough to be Alison Porter, and that her story was pure fiction. Except for maybe some of the commentary about the art world.

Alison’s story begins as she finishes school in a small seaside Dorset town, falls in love and marries at the tender age of 18. It is the early 1970’s and she is not expected to work outside the home. She loves her husband, and he loves her, but as time passes, Alison realises she is not only bored and lonely, but has failed to get going with a meaningful adult life.

A visit to the local library gives her the idea to try a hobby – an art class. Enter Patrick Kerr, a London artist holidaying in the area, ‘the last great painter‘ of portraits.

You can guess what happens next.

Actually you cant! The rest of this review has been eaten by the dreaded WordPress fail to save to draft genii! Normally I copy and paste the page when this happens but for some reason that didn’t work either. I’m bitterly disappointed, because this was a very GOOD review and I have now lost the heart to write the second half again.

Alison is a wonderful story about one woman’s search for identity, independence and the creative life. The perfect choice for anyone who has ever been caught by tradition and convention, for anyone who has ever struggled to kick start their adult life or for anyone who appreciates a beautifully wrought, tender depiction of female friendship and creativity.

A real gem.

Alison: “I can show you some of my paintings after breakfast, if you’d like?”
Alison’s Mum: “Oh, you’re OK, love. I probably won’t understand them! Not clever enough for all that.”
Alison: “It’s not about being clever, Mum. It’s about . . . feeling.”

Title: Alison
Author: Lizzy Stewart
ISBN: 9781788169059
Imprint: Profile Books
Published: 18 October 2022 (originally published 14 Jul 2022)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 176
Dates Read: 12 December 2022 - 23 December 2022
  • This post was written in the area we now call the Blue Mountains within the Ngurra [country] of the Dharug and Gundungurra peoples.

14 thoughts on “Alison | Lizzy Stewart #GraphicNovel

  1. Our local indie bookshop has a small graphic novels section – I’ll see if they have this there, as this combination of faux autobiography, artwork and scrapbook really appeals. Sorry about your chewed up review but it has done its job well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 2022 | The Books
  3. WP seems to lose track of whether or not it’s online, and just sits there spinning its wheels. So far when I’ve seen it happen I’ve managed to save the test to Word. I’m sorry we missed a gem (You remind of a very long time ago when I would sneak into the newsagents and read comics – which were banned at home – until I was shooed away. And yes graphic novels are not comics. I’m not sure I’d get any work done in a bookshop).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Never read a graphic novel….I’ll keep this title on my agenda for future reference.
    WP: when I lose a text I always check at the bottom on the page to the last “revisions” and click to the one I want to restore.


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