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, decided to reclaim her own story, offering her perspective of those events sharply known.
... elegant, focused prose, fluidly translated by Natasha Lehrer ... With admirable restraint – another author might have been tempted to veer off into disquisitions on De Sade, Balthus, or Nabokov – Springora describes how Matzneff expertly manipulated her into believing she had as much agency and power as he did.
Consent is a Molotov cocktail, flung at the face of the French establishment, a work of dazzling, highly controlled fury ... That feeling of fatedness is reinscribed by Springora the shaper of this tale, who begins the book with references to fairy tales, imagining Snow White refusing the temptation of the shiny red apple, Sleeping Beauty resisting the spindle — impossible, the tacit message ... The fallout has been swift. After the publication of Consent, prosecutors opened a case against Matzneff. He was dropped by his three publishers and stripped of a lifetime stipend. This week the government announced it would instate 15 as the age of consent. By every conceivable metric, her book is a triumph.
... shocking ... As in a fairytale, Springora lets the narrative unfold with horrid inevitability. It is compellingly awful to read through modern eyes. How can the lamb be allowed to wander off with the ogre? ... I confess to laughing aloud in places: Springora can be darkly hilarious ... rapier-sharp, written with restraint, elegance and brevity — and beautifully translated — has done what it set out to do. I hope it helped her to write it.