I am not a great reader but I could not resist asking Jean Paul Masse de Rouch to present his Roman Illustré MARIE CHANTAL.
This book had a complex birth since, as an object, it is partly the result of my love for the illustrated novel and partly of my love for photography itself.
But 1 of the reasons, and possibly the main one, that led me to embark on the adventure of making this novel, was the fact that I have often had friends and acquaintances telling me that they do not read as they find it hard to visualize what the writer is describing and recounting only through words.
This pointed me in the direction of producing and illustrating a story in different ways.
Sometimes there is a sketch, sometimes an illustration, some photos have been attached manually after printing. There are also several photos shot as if for a fashion magazine and there are, of course, other photos presented in the convention of the illustrated book.
The story is quite short. It consists of a theme drawn from my novel called MARIE CHANTAL, which published in 2008.
This novel has its own story because I first wrote it as a manual of how to live wisely and well but then decided that this was rather pretentious and so I turned it into a play. There are still traces of the play that remain because, as you will see at the beginning of the novel, each character is presented in the order that they enter the story with a description of their personality. In the end my editor at that time convinced me that a play wouldn’t sell and so I rewrote the text as a novel.
The story that’s told in this illustrated book is in fact an unfinished novel because, in my search to entice the potential readers into reading, I also wanted (and why not?) to encourage them to write as well, and so, at the end of the book, I have left empty pages, suggesting that the readers should take the story further.
The novel is a tale of life in Paris that focuses on the uncertainties of a young woman, “Marie”, rich and quite well known, approaching the age of 40. She has started to question what she really needs: work, emotional relationships, a new dress in absinthe green for her wardrobe … This part of the plot is revealed through conversations between Marie and her friend Chantal, as well as the gossip between 2 of their friends: a press agent and a psychologist.
Of course you can carry the novel forward in many ways by sticking your own photos on the pages, mixing with small pieces of text since I too had fun making “collages”. (patchworks)
I came across an old stock of Swiss paper that looks rather like wallpaper or a velvet fabric from Genoa, and I have used this paper all through the novel. This paper was also reproduced on transparent paper which gives a pretty effect.
The book contains several blank pages both for the readers to continue the story themselves and for them to take possession of the page and note down their own thoughts, cooking recipes, telephone numbers, accounts and so make it a housemate for themselves. I wouldn’t say a travelling companion given the weight of the thing.
What more to say? Oh yes! The end of the book is given over to a photo album. There are in fact little frames which invite you to fill them.
The book also contains translations in English and Chinese as it will be available in China.
I want also to thank everyone who has helped me to accomplish this project and most of all Elvis Pompilio who was responsible for the design of the photographic part, which was no small task, and then to all my other characters: Cici Olsson, Laetitia Ponthieux, Yo Floch Axelle Red who plays herself, Janelle her daughter, Roman Sepul and Jean Baptiste Fabricatore in particular as well as Claudine Duvivier, Aurore, Rami and Mathilde.