cover image Consent


Vanessa Springora, trans. from the French by Natasha Lehrer. HarperVia, $27.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06304-788-4

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. (Feb.)