REVIEW: CONSENT, BY VANESSA SPRINGORA

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

A father, conspicuous only by his absence, who left an unfathomable void, a pronounced taste for reading, a certain sexual precocity, and, most of all, an enormous need to be seen…here we find all the necessary elements now in place.

Thus opens the novel Consent, written by the “victim” of the piece, along with a translator.

Through the pages and in the voice of “V,” we learn the very personal story of a young girl who has found herself trapped and unable to escape. Until much later. And even as the years unfold, the shadow of her perpetrator hovers overhead, indelibly leaving his mark.

I found myself trapped as well, unable to feel anything but disgust for the “famous writer” who has taken over the life of this young woman. Silence means consent, according to the norms of the day.

We might believe that V was complicit in these events, but not when we study the whole of her situation. I could feel nothing but sadness for her, but jubilation in her final escape. A brilliant read. 5 stars.#2021ReadNonFic

***

7 thoughts on “REVIEW: CONSENT, BY VANESSA SPRINGORA

  1. I saw an interview with the author and an analysis by a cultural programme in Sweden. Horrifying story. I wanted to read it. I am happy that it started a discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2 | book'd out

Please leave your thoughts. Comments, not awards, feed my soul. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.