Simmonds’ gift for voice is what makes her the most novelistic of graphic novelists: her narrators reveal themselves with an extraordinary economy... None of this detracts from the book’s visual achievement: the deft composition of each panel and the dance between them create a labour of love that is simply stunning.
Posy Simmonds’s devilishly good graphic novel... Cassandra is a marvellous creation... she is gloriously, witheringly dismissive of everyone and everything... Simmonds, the author of Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovery, is skilled at skewering metropolitan middle-class mores and this is beautifully showcased in her tricksily beguiling, soft-edged compositions... There is too much clever detail in each of the panels to take in everything at first read — but Cassandra is an antiheroine you’ll want to return to.
Fans of Simmonds who get her brand of satire and sharply drawn characters will delight in the hateful 71-year-old Cassandra... This is territory familiar from Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December (2009) and John Lanchester’s Capital (2012) among others. What Simmonds adds is timely observations on the power play between men and women and her detailed illustrations bring a wry comic energy to the page. The deceptively simple plot belies a nuanced social commentary. Cassandra is awful, yet it’s hard not to admire her chutzpah, succeeding in a man’s world... Simmonds’ drawings are exquisitely observed, and seamlessly incorporate text messages and online news reports. Her muted palette, with occasional splashes of colour, is absorbing and in the curmudgeonly Cassandra... Simmonds has produced another character that comes living and breathing off the page.
Those hoping for a cosy whodunit need not apply: despite the gorgeous graphics and the old-fashioned delight in plot, Simmonds doesn’t shy away from real brutality and uncomfortable truths about social inequality. And her deft, clever books are never plodding adaptations of their 19th-century progenitors: unlike Scrooge, Cassandra doesn’t exactly repent of the way she’s lived. “In the small hours, apart from selling fakes, I find my conscience largely clear. Of course the world has always found me deviant, a ‘failure’ as a woman — and I admit to this.”...
The book is at its best when curmudgeonly Cassandra gets to narrate. Elsewhere, the prose can be functional, but does that matter when the drawings are so sumptuous? Appropriately, Simmonds is good at darkness: London in December, shop windows aglow, headlights on wet tarmac, snow and fog. To open these pages is to enter a world, our world right now, full of smartphones, sex trafficking, hen parties, takeaway coffee cups, Alzheimer’s. All that noticing, all that witty, deliciously detailed recording: this is a rich gift of a (graphic) novel that deserves a place on your Christmas shortlist.