Idle Days is a brilliant debut graphic novel from Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau


While browsing through bookstore or library bookshelves, the graphic novel entitled Idle Days will be hard to miss. The deep oranges and reds of the fire illuminating the background of the cover almost set the tone for what you can expect to experience when you will inevitably become engrossed in the beautifully crafted pages of the graphic novel.

Idle Days follows the day-to-day life of Jerome, a younger man who was drafted into the Canadian army during WWII and is dealing with the death of his father. Jerome decides not to serve in the army and takes refuge in his grandfather’s cabin in the countryside of Quebec where he helps to renovate the cabin with his grandfather. However, everything is not as normal as it seems. Vivid nightmares haunt Jerome during the night, and he looks into what could’ve been a possible murder at the cabin before it was his grandfather’s.

While the plot may seem simple, the story is rich with symbolism and meaningful moments that make it a compelling read. The author, Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau, studied cinema, a fact that can be quite apparent because the book almost has the features of an arthouse film. Jerome’s relationships with the people in his life are constantly changing, and although Jerome’s interactions are tense at times, you feel invested in what will happen to him along with those around him. One interesting aspect of the book was how none of World War II was shown. As the war seems to slowly advance, we feel as if we are with the characters at that point in time, and we only know what is happening through the radio broadcasts they hear and the audience reads. This really added to the suspense and the feeling of isolation that is present throughout the book.

The illustrator for the book is Simon LeClerc, whose unique style of art is spellbinding and drew me in from the first few pages. Jerome’s dreams can sometimes be haunting visions or are shown as a collage of bodies, plants, and animals. These dream sequences are bound to stick with you and can be quite bleak at times, but it is contrasted by the vibrant setting surrounding the cabin as the story progresses throughout seasons. Waves of black crayon, oil pastels, and gouache coloring breathe life into every page.

Idle Days is a breath of fresh air. It is a fantastic debut for author Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau and fans of historical fiction, and the graphic novel format is definitely an enjoyable aspect. I would definitely like to revisit this book sometime soon because I’m sure that I will discover something new the next time I read it.