A literary sensation in France, this debut novel tells of the torrid love affair between Sarah and the unnamed narrator, a young mother who has become overwhelmingly smitten. The relationship will upend both women's lives.
Here’s a novelty: a book about love as utter abandonment of the self, love as capitulation, love as not only obsession but possession, which manages not to be overwrought. ... Delabroy-Allard succeeds by keeping things simple and using repeated phrases to layer the story ... The second half of the book is even more satisfying than the first, as the narrator flies to Italy, stays with a friend, and keeps moving to prevent the settlement of thoughts she would rather not face. The sentences and sections become longer, reflecting the scurrying activity of her mind ... The persuasive translation by Adriana Hunter does occasionally let an awkward word poke through its straightforward language ... But these don’t diminish the pleasures of a book that reads at times—this is high praise—like a new iteration of Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body (absorbing passion, illness, separation) and that moves impressively from the chaos and noise of love, to silence and solitude, like a spun coin settling.
The hyperbolic emotion of this novel sometimes tips into cliché, but Delabroy-Allard insists on holding space for an unfiltered expression of pain. Melodramatic expressions are interspersed with straightforward pieces of wisdom ... Hunter’s translation highlights the inertia and cycling of the absolutist thought patterns of love, with simple language that moves out of the way of its subject. This poetic and mystifying debut draws blood.
This is simply a remarkable creation by Delabroy-Allard who deserves huge congratulations for writing such a gripping and evocative debut novel. Set in Paris, it captures an engrossing and compelling same-sex love affair between the narrator (name unknown) and Sarah. A love affair that consists of ecstasy and magic coupled with emotional pain and misery in equal measure ... a faultless tour de force from start to finish which gives glimpses of a love that is sometimes dysfunctional, painful, and profound. This is a bold novel, make no mistake; some readers will love it and others won’t. The sex acts between the two women are described in fairly graphic detail sometimes, and this will inevitably stir up internalized homophobia from within the LGBTQ+ community among those who haven’t reconciled with their own feelings towards the same sex. And when that occurs, envy, rejection and criticism often result—even from literature ... Disliking a story and criticizing its writing style are two separate entities. In this case, disliking They Say Sarah would be difficult because the story is so well told. Skill and craftsmanship ooze from this beautiful novel. It would be a cliché to just say that it’s well written because that wouldn’t do the book full justice. The writing style and layout portray a clever, innovative, and incredibly talented approach by Delabroy-Allard. She certainly is a writer of the present and the future.