Simone Lia latest graphic novel eschews the more fanciful elements of her most famous creation Fluffy in favour of a more meditative approach that may not be to the liking of her less spiritual fans. What we have here is a graphic novel that follows Simone Lia as she forges an adventure with God for herself, visiting some nuns in Carmarthen, going to church, stepping into the Bible for a bit and eventually heading Australia-ward where she has a small romance.
Fans of Lia will be interested to note that the book contains arguably her best work – there are some beautifully rendered religious icons and some really pretty trees – and some terrific jokes (such as when Lia plays Operation with Jesus and a young version of herself). Please God, Find Me a Husband is also tremendously interesting because it works as something of a fulcrum between writer and reader: here is an author looking to get to grips with the fundamentals of existence in many ways.
There is a flipside to this, however, and the flipside is likely to be highly divisive depending on your feelings vis-à-vis God. Although the book is called Please God, Find Me a Husband – this is not a book about Simone Lia’s search for a husband and more a book about Simone Lia’s search for her God. If you are religious yourself, if you regularly find yourself posing unanswerable questions, this might well the book for you – the danger is that Lia is somewhat irreverent and in my experience religious people don’t tend to value irreverence highly. So, you alienate people who genuinely have no interest in God and then you alienate the people who do have an interest in God but consider Life of Brian, say, to be blasphemous and corrupt. I’m not sure who is left after that.
This hairline crack is kept for the most part below the surface (Lia mentions her publisher’s worries about the commerciality of the book – worries this reviewer shares). Lia has gusto. A sort of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music vim and vigor. Although Please God, Find Me a Husband is in the end not for me (I don’t believe in God and so one person’s journey, even a person as interesting as Simone Lia, a journey that resolves itself with a leap into the mystery of faith, is not likely to inflame my passions), the passion with which she throws herself into her tale and the beautiful way in which it is rendered, leave me wanting to recommend it in spite of myself.
Any Cop?: A brave book, in some ways, a foolish book in others; defiantly not for everyone. ‘A graphic novel for religious sorts’ would have made a good tagline.