Hope you’re all enjoying a fantastic start to the week. I am in the middle of a glorious sunny day and that always helps to lift spirits. I do really enjoy the colder months, but I’m definitely looking forward to some warmer weather now. Especially with lockdown measures hopefully easing slightly in the near future.
I have always enjoyed reading a memoir and this particular one drew my attention as it seemed like it told an important story. Thank you to @HarperViaBooks and @VSpringora for this advanced copy of Consent in return for an honest review. Consent is out now and you can get a copy here.
Vanessa Springora was a teenager thirty years ago and was the muse of one of France’s most celebrated writers. The attitudes, the culture and the unfortunate circumstances of Vanessa’s childhood allowed thirteen year old V to become sexually involved with this writer who was at the time, in his fifties.
This memoir could be seen as an exposé of the literary world as well as one of it’s writers who stole her adolescent years. She writes in devastating detail about how her life was impacted at the time and how he impacted her life through to adulthood.
General Thoughts 🤔
I knew that this wouldn’t be an easy book to read but I don’t think I was quite prepared for how shocked I would be by it. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for this author to open up like she has, but also to re-live what I imagine she would rather bury deep. On the other hand, I would guess that writing all of this down may have been quite therapeutic and it’s poetic that she chose to tell her story via words; the very thing that G attacked her with.
The world described in this memoir was so vivid to me as a reader. I could imagine the small circle of people all from a corner of Paris engulfed by literature. Writing was quite obviously king above all else. Morals, laws, people did not matter, as long as the writing was good. Being raised in that small circle could not have been easy and certainly living the life that V did must have been outrageously difficult.
I hate to call this “characters” as this is a memoir, not a novel. These aren’t characters they are real people. But I would like to touch on my thoughts on a couple of those people.
Firstly, V’s mother. I have such admiration that V has managed to maintain a relationship with her mother after what she has been through. In my eyes her mother was complicit in what happened to V and in another place at another time, she would not have gotten away from this unscathed by the law.
Secondly, V. The bravery and courage it must have taken to write this book is insurmountable. At the age of thirteen, a girl’s emotional intelligence is not fully developed, her body is not fully developed yet V was thrust into a world where she was expected to behave and live like an adult. How conflicted she must have felt at that age; knowing that what was happening was wrong but being so absorbed in the world and being lavished with attention from someone so well thought of.
Writing Style ✍️
This book is written so beautifully. I could feel the emotion and the pain leaping out of the pages. There is no dramatisation because it is not required. I found the writing to be very straight to the point and direct and it almost made it even more harrowing to read.
Something that I didn’t consider until I had finished reading was the translation from French to English. I’m sure that completing that task without losing any of the beauty in the words was a difficult undertaking but I think it was done fantastically. There’s a part of me that wishes I could read French so I could read both and compare. The French language has always seemed to me to be far more beautiful than English.
Conclusion & Scoring 🎖️
I found it quite hard to score this book because it’s someone’s very personal story. How can I put a score on that? So my scoring is very much based on the writing and the way in which V chose to tell the story of her life. I learnt a lot about how chauvinistic the literary world can be and how too many people are all too willing to turn a blind eye in the name of art. I applaud V and anyone else who goes against that old fashioned establishment and hits back with elegance and decorum like this memoir.