cover image Consent


Annabel Lyon. Knopf, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-31800-3

The lives of two pairs of sisters from Vancouver intersect in Lyon’s intense, intimate novel of love, grief, and murder (after The Sweet Girl). After 30-something Sara Landow’s mother dies in 2011, Sara assumes responsibility for her intellectually disabled younger sister, Mattie. A month later, when Sara returns from a short trip, Mattie has married their late mother’s handyman, Robert Dwyer. While Mattie had never been declared legally incompetent, Sara doubts she is capable of consenting to marriage, and tries to have it annulled. In 2015, the lives of 27-year-old twins Saskia and Jenny Gilbert are derailed when a car accident leaves Jenny in a coma. While Jenny is still unconscious in the hospital, a man is caught masturbating in her room. As Saskia, disturbed by the news, learns about Jenny’s practice of BDSM, Lyon alternates back to Sara as she grieves in the aftermath of Mattie’s death from a fall for which Robert was present, a few years after they married. When Sara and Saskia eventually meet, they process their sisters’ disturbing relationships. While the circumstances leading to the women’s connection are not entirely surprising, their reactions ramp up the novel toward a deliciously dark conclusion. Lyon’s mesmerizing novel perfectly captures the odd mix of love and resentment faced by caregivers. (Jan.)