A review by gingerkathrynreads
The Two Lives of Penelope, by Judith Vanistendael

challenging emotional informative reflective sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I was given an ARC ebook copy free through Netgalley.
This was an incredibly moving story exploring strained relationships between a woman and her sister, husband and in particular her teenage daughter, as she is torn between her home life and serving as a doctor for MSF in Syria. I loved the exploration of trauma and the way that was visually represented with
Spoilerthe ghost of the child the doctor lost in Syria - such a powerful way to depict the way in which experiences can haunt those who return from war.
I also loved the way in which Penelope sought councilling and talked openly about how she was feeling and what she was experiencing, and the way in which it's depicted as a one-sided conversation as it can so often feel. There were so many things about this book that made me reflect upon my relationship with my own mother. The art style is beautiful - I love the natural water marks left by the watercolour and the pen-outline illustration style. I would love a print copy of this beautiful work when/if one becomes available!

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