“Consent” is a Molotov cocktail, flung at the face of the French establishment, a work of dazzling, highly controlled fury...By every conceivable metric, her book is a triumph.” -- The New York Times
Already an international literary sensation, an intimate and powerful memoir of a young French teenage girl’s relationship with a famous, much older male writer—a universal #MeToo story of power, manipulation, trauma, recovery, and resiliency that exposes the hypocrisy of a culture that has allowed the sexual abuse of minors to occur unchecked.
Sometimes, all it takes is a single voice to shatter the silence of complicity.
Thirty years ago, Vanessa Springora was the teenage muse of one of the country’s most celebrated writers, a footnote in the narrative of a very influential man in the French literary world.
At the end of 2019, as women around the world began to speak out, Vanessa, now in her forties and the director of one of France’s leading publishing houses, decided to reclaim her own story, offering her perspective of those events sharply known.
Consent is the story of one precocious young girl’s stolen adolescence. Devastating in its honesty, Vanessa’s painstakingly memoir lays bare the cultural attitudes and circumstances that made it possible for a thirteen-year-old girl to become involved with a fifty-year-old man who happened to be a notable writer. As she recalls the events of her childhood and her seduction by one of her country’s most notable writers, Vanessa reflects on the ways in which this disturbing relationship changed and affected her as she grew older.
Drawing parallels between children’s fairy tales and French history and her personal life, Vanessa offers an intimate and absorbing look at the meaning of love and consent and the toll of trauma and the power of healing in women’s lives. Ultimately, she offers a forceful indictment of a chauvinistic literary world that has for too long accepted and helped perpetuate gender inequality and the exploitation and sexual abuse of children.
Translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer
"...One of the belated truths that emerges from [Consent] is that Springora is a writer. [...]Her sentences gleam like metal; each chapter snaps shut with the clean brutality of a latch." -- The New Yorker
"Consent [is] rapier-sharp, written with restraint, elegance and brevity." -- The Times (London)
"[Consent] has something steely in its heart, and it departs from the typical American memoir of childhood abuse in exhilarating ways." -- Slate
"Lucid and nuanced...[Consent] will speak to trauma survivors everywhere." -- Los Angeles Review of Books
”A piercing memoir about the sexually abusive relationship she endured at age 14 with a 50-year-old writer...This chilling account will linger with readers long after the last page is turned.” -- Publishers Weekly
"Springora's lucid account is a commanding discussion of sexual abuse and victimization, and a powerful act of reclamation." -- Booklist
"A chilling story of child abuse and the sophisticated Parisians who looked the other way...[Springora] is an elegant and perceptive writer." -- Kirkus
French publishing executive Springora debuts with a piercing memoir about the sexually abusive relationship she endured at age 14 with a 50-year-old writer. In the process, she condemns the literary enclaves of 1970s and '80s France that she says elevated the predatory needs of artists above the safety of children: "We have witnessed only Catholic priests being bestowed such a level of impunity." Referring to herself as "V," the nickname given to her by "G" in his published work, Springora recounts how she met G through her mother, who worked in publishing. The pair found each other captivating, and over the course of a year, Springora turned "from a muse into a fictional character," as G portrayed himself to the public as a mentor rather than a pedophile and a sexual predator. (He also, she writes, paid for sex with 11-year-old boys.) Springora was haunted by the experience into her adulthood and to the point of a psychotic breakdown, when she wondered, "How is it possible to acknowledge having been abused, when it's impossible to deny having consented?" In elegant prose, Springora corrects G's fictions of "mentorship" in telling her story while shedding light on the devastating aftermath. This chilling account will linger with readers long after the last page is turned.