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Tree of Love: Songs of Our Ancestors    by Patrick Atangan order for
Tree of Love
by Patrick Atangan
Order:  USA  Can
Nantier Beall Minoustchine, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

As the third in a series of graphic novels of Asian folktales, Tree of Love delivers a love story, adapted from the Rajput polyptych paintings of Northern India. It tells of the struggles of a prince courting a flower peddler who is not impressed with his earthly wealth or charms. He eventually convinces her of his love and she agrees to marry him. Though their marriage is a happy one, she suffers through an incident that leaves her without memories. So, she returns to peddling flowers in a faraway land. The prince must search the world to find his beloved wife, agonizing all the time they are apart.

Endearing and aesthetically beautiful, Tree of Love is an enjoyable love story with art that is both culturally and visually appealing. As a tale taken from the past, the art seeks to resemble the art of the time with some modernization. Therefore, character faces are almost always in profile while their torsos are presented sideways or forwards much like their legs. Atangan creates on full panel, centered on each page. He decorates the perimeter of each panel with floral pattern wallpaper. Though the panel is not broken down into further panels with borders, Antagan presents a course of action, manipulating background and characters without breaking up the scene. Each panel then becomes one cohesive picture, properly framed as if on a wall. Remarkable as this piece is, it would be improved by an introduction or even annotations about the story. Readers don't really learn about the ancient artistic piece on which the novel is based - its significance, history or the artist's reasons for choosing it.

Regardless, Tree of Love becomes an updated piece of art in this graphic format, its author reminding us of the quality and ability of this unique medium. Fantastically blending story and art, Atangan delivers a delightful and stunning piece of work.

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