Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Review: The Case of Madeleine Smith by Rick Geary

Yes, I told you I would be reading more Rick Geary after my first encounter with his A Treasury of Victorian Murder graphic novel series. I picked up two more to read while waiting for Mockingjay.

This is the story of a woman named Madeleine Smith. The story takes place in Scotland 1857 where she is accused of poisoning her lover.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–Gearys story, set in 19th-century Scotland, tells of the scandalous affair between an upper-class woman and a lower-class man that ended with his gruesome death. Smith was an architects daughter and the graduate of a London finishing school. Emile LAnglier was a seed merchants son, a clerk with a history of bad relationships. Their attraction to one another was instantaneous, and they began to correspond. The book is filled with excerpts from their letters; as much as Madeleine pushed Emile away, she clearly needed him, since nearly 200 of her letters were later found in his possessions. But their love was doomed because of the tension involved in keeping their relationship private. After years of turmoil, Madeleine became engaged to another man and Emile threatened to send her letters to her father. The poisoning began in cups of hot chocolate that she gave to Emile. The pen-and-ink images artfully convey this gripping story, notably in the scene in which the lovers eyes first meet and later when a veiled Madeleine walks up a staircase through a door in the courtroom floor. This book maintains the level of excellence set by the other volumes in this series, and would be an asset to any collection.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

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My thoughts:
I enjoyed this graphic novel. I found Volume 9 to be more engaging as I enjoyed the gruesomeness of that storyline. What I find interesting in this particular story is that she is found not guilty despite some pretty obvious evidence. However, the evidence is not matter of fact. I am just blown away by these stories and it once again forces me to rethink my teaching. I would have loved to hear stories like this in my education pathway. I forget how much history there is to think about. Simple things like how conservative the time period was where even the legs of a table had to be covered up and not shown bare. When Madeleine Smith used place mats instead of a tablecloth it just rocked the community of scandal.
The one thing that has not changed over time is how much people love gossip and crazy stories. Even back then people were paying money to see her in prison when she was awaiting trial. The newspapers were loving the storyline it was not long before speculations of all sorts began to float around the air. Rick Geary mentions how people wanted to know what she ate for breakfast and that is how are society still is today.
Another fun read. Not as gruesome of a true crime scene as Volume 9 so SLJ recomends for grades 7 and up and I would agree.
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