A smart, mysterious and heartbreaking novel centred on two sets of sisters whose lives are braided together when tragedy changes them forever. From the award-winning author of The Golden Mean.
Saskia and Jenny are twins who are alike only in appearance. Saskia is a hard-working grad student whose interests are solely academic, while Jenny, an interior designer, is glamourous, thrill-seeking, capricious and narcissistic. Still, when Jenny is severely injured in an accident, Saskia puts her life on hold to be with her sister.
Sara and Mattie are sisters with a difficult relationship. Mattie, the younger sister, is affectionate, curious and intellectually disabled. As soon as Sara is able, she leaves home, in pursuit of a life of the mind and the body: she loves nothing more than fine wines, sensual perfumes, and expensive clothing. But when their mother dies, Sara inherits the duty of caring for her sister. Arriving at the house one day, she finds out that Mattie has married Robert, her wealthy mother's handyman. Though Mattie seems happy, Sara cannot let this go, forcing the annulment of the marriage and the banishment of Robert. With him out of the picture, though, she has no choice but to become her sister's keeper, sacrificing her own happiness and Mattie's too. When Robert turns up again, another tragedy happens. The waves from these events eventually engulf Sara and Saskia, sisters in mourning, in a quest for revenge.
Consent is a startling, moving, thought-provoking novel on the complexities of familial duty and on how love can become entangled with guilt, resentment and regret.
ANNABEL LYON is the author of seven books for adults and kids, including the internationally bestselling The Golden Mean. She teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia.
Longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize
One of CBC's "Best Canadian Fiction of 2020"
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
One of the Globe and Mail's "Globe 100: Our Favourite Books of 2020"
“This tightly and beautifully written novel folds time and longing into every sentence and every page. It takes risks with form to reveal a profoundly human story, and it leaves us with an unexpected sensation: that this is real life—it contains all kinds of deep and difficult loves, and not all of us can survive them. It’s a brave, even dangerous book and so compelling that I read it from cover to cover over the course of one night.”
—Preti Taneja, author of We That Are Young
“Mesmerizing . . . An intense, intimate novel of love, grief, and murder [with] a deliciously dark conclusion . . . Perfectly captures the odd mix of love and resentment faced by caregivers.”
“[A] short, intense, and coruscating book. . . . [Lyon] packs more into her sentences than most writers working today and constructs a narrative that closes on the reader like a mousetrap. And like any good mousetrap, by the time its victim realizes they’ve stumbled, it’s too late.”
—Quill & Quire
“A genuinely surprising read, rooted in a keen, if unsettling, understanding of human nature . . . Consent defies conventional narrative, embracing instead a sense of emotional time . . . This is, after all, how we think and feel, how families and relationships develop and age, how we grow. Life, Lyon shows, isn’t a straight line.”
—Robert J. Wiersema, Toronto Star
“[A]n exuberant and weirdly wonderful novel that absolutely commits to its feverish tale of damaged brains, storied couture dresses, alcoholism, mortality, rare French perfumes, tempestuous sisterhood and cold-blooded retaliation. . . . Brimming with smart, sharp writing and wholly unpredictable turns from one chapter to the next, now and then in fact its cockeyed vision brings to mind Hitchcock and Lynch at their quirky, misanthropic finest. . . . As attractive as the sharp turns and unsettling comedy are, Lyon’s affection for her leading ladies and acceptance (even celebration) of them as they are supplies the novel with irresistible charm.”
—The Vancouver Sun
“Combining ethical dilemmas with material indulgence, Consent is a heady, intoxicating blend. In slick and sensual prose, Lyon challenges what it means to be a sister, a carer, an addict, an enabler and maybe even a murderer.”
—Ruth Gilligan, The Butchers’ Blessing
“Lyon traces the entanglements of sisterhood that can’t be separated from each identity . . . The novel builds to a climax that weaves together each plotline, leaving room for surprising moments of insight.”
—Rudrapriya Rathore, Canadian Notes and Queries
“So very crazily enjoyable and pleasingly savage . . . An exuberant and weirdly wonderful novel . . . Brimming with smart, sharp writing and wholly unpredictable turns from one chapter to the next . . . Brings to mind Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch at their quirky, misanthropic finest . . . Lyon’s affection for her leading ladies and acceptance (even celebration) of them as they are supplies the novel with irresistible charm.”
—Brett Josef Grubisic, Beacon Herald (Stratford)