It takes about twenty minutes to read The Professor's Daughter, a charming and gorgeously illustrated graphic novel by French artists Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert originally published in 1997 and recently reissued in an English translation by First Second, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press.
That's more than long enough to become emotionally invested in this madcap love story featuring Lillian Bowell, the daughter of a famous Victorian Egyptologist, and Imhotep IV, a pharaoh a few thousand years her senior.
Along the way, subtle points are made about cultural imperialism, class inequities, the tyranny of fathers, and women's rights during the Victorian period. "I'm an antiquity," says Imhotep IV. "I belong to the country of the one who found me." Lillian complains that she sometimes feels like a possession of her father's.
This 64-page fable moves at a cracking pace but you'll want to slow down to enjoy Guibert’s elegant ink and watercolor panels. The softness of his brushwork and the impressionistic wash of browns, grays, blues, and reds are a perfect match for the sweet, loopy story. Imhotep IV may be the most dashing pharaoh ever to grace the printed page: think King Tut crossed with Fred Astaire ("dancing by the Nile, the ladies love his style") and you get the idea. This book is a thing of beauty ... an absolute treat and a joy to read.
I've written a longer review of this book, with a plot summary, for Amazon: