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Posted March 17, 2015
The Adventuress is the first book by American author and artist, Audrey Niffenegger. It was created when Niffenegger was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, developing from a series of drawings. The original books were hand printed: a limited edition of ten copies. The drawings are aquatints, featuring a young woman in a skirt and long gloves, created by an alchemist. After the woman is kidnapped by a Baron, the story takes some bizarre turns, including transformation into a moth, an affair with Napoleon, giving birth to a cat and being cared for by nuns. The text is minimal, often as little as one or two words on the page opposite the prints.
In her afterword, Niffenegger explains the complicated process involved in the hand printing. The prints, in subdued colours, are quite individual, and Niffenegger’s style is distinctive. It is easy to see from her later works (The Night Book Mobile and Raven Girl) that both the quality of the art and the storytelling have improved since the earlier books she refers to as “visual novels”. Dedicated Niffenegger fans may wish to own a copy; borrowing from the library is recommended for those who are merely “interested”. Different.
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