Blue is the Warmest Colour



Blue is the Warmest Colour

by Julie Maroh
Graphic novel

View an image from the book

To feel blue is traditionally to be melancholic, but Julie Maroh’s graphic novel provides the hue with a new set of connotations. As the neatly curled script of Clémentine’s diary informs us, blue is the colour of her true love’s hair, or at least, it was when they first met. They caught each other’s eyes in a crowded street, Emma standing out from the dull crowd as an azure streak. Her locks dominate every frame that she steps into. They are etched into Clémentine’s memories, her experiences, and her fantasies.

Typical for a teenage journal, Clémentine’s entries skip ahead months, sometimes years, at a time. We are spared details of exam revision or employment; she seems interested only in writing about Emma. Her adolescent life is recounted as a crescendo building to their relationship, while her adulthood is marked by ellipses of stagnation or separation. The largest chronological leap occurs at the story’s end, as the two reunite for a coastal walk. In the final panel, a brunette Emma sees her old shade surrendered to a cerulean sea.

Words by John Wadsworth

Clémentine, the protagonist of Blue is the Warmest Colour, is dragged out of the house kicking and screaming by her partner, Emma. Only seconds earlier, she admitted to an incident of unfaithfulness that she now bitterly regrets. While Emma attempts to process this unwelcome revelation, the reader observes her reaction, as captured in a series of indignant facial expressions. After considering her response, she gives a simple order: ‘Get out.’ Her pain is paralleled by Clémentine’s, who slumps against the front door in despair.

Clémentine’s disappointment with adulthood is no secret. In one scene, she reflects on how she has grown up faster than expected. One speech bubble contains a scrawled confession: ‘Reality is now very different from my childhood dreams.’ The various facets of her life are shown: drinking with friends, lying in bed with Emma, teaching in the classroom. Her naked body is pictured in front of this grid of images, twisted into the foetal position, surrounded by the coming-of-age contradictions that pervade the novel’s every page.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

More to discover

Read an excerpt from Blue is the Warmest Colour here. Rachel Kramer Bussel has interviewed Julie Maroh for Salon.

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