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This graphic novel chronicles the fictional life story of Alison Porter, whose talent as a painter blossoms in bohemian 1970s London.
Alison tells the story of a young British woman who, in her twenties, seizes upon the opportunity to escape from her quiet life in Dorset to the thrumming art scene of late-1970s London. But the vehicle for her escape is a charismatic older man whose reputation as an artist and philanderer casts a shadow which will follow Alison for years as she pursues her painting career.
Combining immaculate prose and stunning artwork, Alison is a complex love and coming-of-age story, as well as a meditation on female friendship and empowerment, class and patriarchy, the creative process and the thorny world of fine art. British illustrator and author Lizzy Stewart crafts a graphic novel that evokes the atmospheric milieu of bohemian London in the late 20th century, while at the same time exploring the more universal struggles of women who must navigate male-dominated spaces.
Told through quietly powerful interpersonal moments rich with meaning and mood, this graphic novel will appeal to fans of Sally Rooney and Leanne Shapton, as well as the great empathic writers Alice Munro, Hilary Mantel, and Tessa Hadley.
About the Author
Lizzy Stewart is a British illustrator and author who teaches illustration at Goldsmiths College in London. She has written and illustrated three picture books for children alongside Walking Distance, an illustrated essay, and It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be, a graphic short-story collection. Her debut picture book There’s a Tiger in the Garden won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Picture Books in 2017.
Mournful, lovely... Stewart’s dynamic, warm, flowing art invites the reader in.
— The New York Times Book Review
There’s a quiet but powerful immediacy to [Stewart’s work] that will appeal to lit fic fans who may not always pick up comics.
— Publishers Weekly
It’s a heartening journey, a delicious portrait of London and a more universal tale of a working-class young woman making a life in a world that has not been designed for the likes of her. For all its effortlessness [...] Alison ends up carrying a great emotional heft. It's a lovely book, and I cried at the end.
— The Guardian
Across sublimely written, memoir-style passages, we watch as Alison prevails; navigating life, love and her burgeoning work in a sequence of milestones, some devastating, some euphoric, but all thrillingly real.
— The Irish Times
A clever portrait of an artist’s journey that smartly combines prose and art, Alison is beautiful in every way. The tale is so convincing that I still can’t believe it isn’t a memoir. Lizzy Stewart is an unparalleled storyteller.
— Powells' Best Graphic Novels of 2023
Alison is a haunting book, complex and intimate. Lizzy Stewart has written and drawn the aches and confusions of love and growing up with immense skill.
— Posy Simmonds (Gemma Bovery)
Elegantly told, exquisitely illustrated, Alison is defined by its precision even as it overflows with important ideas and feelings about being a female artist in the modern world. Lizzy Stewart has given a real gift with this smart, moving, heartfelt book.
— Jami Attenberg (I Came All This Way to Meet You)
Subtle and deliciously complicated, this is a big book on big subjects, but lightly, elegantly done. I loved it.
— Tessa Hadley (Free Love)
This book is a testament to the right to choose your own life. It made me long for my friends; the dreams we have shared over the years and the ways in which they make the world feel possible. I want to give a copy to everyone I love.
— Jessica Andrews (Saltwater)
Every now and again a book comes along that is such a bright joy, so true, so beautiful and moving. Alison is one of those books.
— Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist)