Consent: A Memoir
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
“The story delivered is reminiscent of that of a pact with the devil and the reference to fairy tales (Bluebeard in particular) highlights the importance of the theme of sexual predator in literature, including children's literature. Love must be there in wonder; in the case of the sexual predator, the stupor is not that of joy but that of Evil. To write it is to exorcise it, in the strong sense; to receive this testimony is to accompany this disenchantment and to get out of the state of torpor in which conformism, indifference or complacency always threaten to plunge us.” -- Elodie Pinel, La Revue Études