on Tour July 12-18 with
The Madeleine Project
Release date: September 12, 2017 at New Vessel Press
ISBN: 978-1939931498 288 pages
SYNOPSISA young woman moves into a Paris apartment and discovers a storage room filled with the belongings of the previous owner, a certain Madeleine who died in her late nineties, and whose treasured possessions nobody seems to want. In an audacious act of journalism driven by personal curiosity and humane tenderness, Clara Beaudoux embarks on The Madeleine Project, documenting what she finds on Twitter with text and photographs, introducing the world to an unsung 20th century figure. Along the way, she uncovers a Parisian life indelibly marked by European history. This is a graphic novel for the Twitter age, a true story that encapsulates one woman’s attempt to live a life of love and meaning together with a contemporary quest to prevent that existence from slipping into oblivion. Through it all, The Madeleine Project movingly chronicles, and allows us to reconstruct, intimate memories of a bygone era.
The Madeleine Project is a unique and pretty cool idea for a book. The Madeleine Project actually began as a project that the author, Clara Beaudoux, embarked upon when she discovered boxes and suitcases full of photos and documents and the various items collected and left behind by the previous tenant of her apartment in Paris. The previous tenant - the Madeleine referred to in the title - had died and her next of kin didn't want any of the stuff she left behind. Beaudoux began going through the accumulated possessions and tweeted pictures and comments on what she found. The book is the compilation of her tweets and her research and interviews about Madeleine.
Since a good part of the book is simply her tweets with the photos and her comments, reading the book is quite fast and easy. However, I found that despite the brevity of the text, the project haunted my thoughts. The slow discovery of pieces of an individual's life is intriguing, poignant, and beautiful.
The project was a wonderful example of trying to piece together the story of someone's life from the objects they left behind. Some of the items were a mystery as to their function, some make the author question why Madeleine would save such an item, some items had historical significance, but all of the items uncovered work together to paint a snapshot of a life.The project demonstrates that we all have stories to tell and while our lives may seem ordinary and mundane, there is always something that may intrigue and show that we are all very similar in the end.
I think the beauty of this book and the Madeleine Project itself is how people were drawn in to the mystery of one seemingly simple and ordinary life. Madeleine had dreams and plans and love and Beaudoux is keeping her memory alive through this lovely project. Reading this book made me consider how and why I keep some of the things that I keep.
In French: on Facebook, The Madeleine Project page, and the author’s main website
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