BOOK REViEW: The Castafiore Emerald, Hergé

This is, pun fully intended, an absolute gem of a story. 

Opting to keep Tintin, Haddock and co. at home in Marlinspike Hall, rather than send them on their usual globe-trotting adventures to far-flung and exotic lands, Hergé delivers a masterpiece of storytelling and artwork. 

As a kid I didn’t really like the Castafiore character, and as a consequence this was one of only two or three Tintin adventures missing from my childhood collection.  

I ended up giving away all my Tintin books to the children of a friend. Something I kind of wish I hadn’t done now! Having collected them all again, the Castafiore Emerald is now certainly amongst my favourite. You could make the case for it being more of a Haddock than a Tintin adventure, and in some ways this reflects Hergé’s possible identification with his irascible creation: numerous of the later Tintin adventures (The Calculus Affair and Tintin in Tibet both immediately spring to mind) find Haddock swearing his days of roving adventure are done.

In the CE Hergé makes good on this idea, resulting in a story that’s almost like a stage play, confined mostly to the insides of Marlinspike, as opposed to most Tintin adventures, which are more like big budget globetrotting movies in conception. This allows Hergé to maximise the character, dialogue and plot elements, all of which, like his superlative art (although he was by this stage, it has to he said, supported by a talented team at his studio) are at their peak.

I won’t go into the plot and risk spoiling it for those unfamiliar with it, suffice it to say that it’s superb, and amongst the best and most sophisticated of Hergé’s works, making it one of the Tintin adventures best suited to adult enjoyment. 


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