“On mornings when Anouk slept in, I stood on our balcony and looked down at the street. The pavement was so far away that I could no longer see any cracks. I watched people trotting down our street without ever raising their heads. I imagined hundreds of men and women who shared their lives with two partners. There were so many of us, children of these double families who dreamed of the other side.”
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE “Gorgeous... very French... in lush, lyrical prose that perfectly captures the heightened emotion and confusion of being a young woman with a bruised heart and limited experience. Though the book seems to be about an absent father, it’s more about a tricky mother, and about motherhood in general. It asks the ultimate question about this most complicated of relationships: What will a mother do for her child?”—Sarah Lyall, The New York Times (Daily Review) (full review)
The secret daughter of a French politician and a famous actress drops the startling revelation that will shatter her family in this beguiling debut novel of intrigue and betrayal.
Margot Louve is a secret: the child of a longstanding affair between an influential French politician with presidential ambitions and a prominent stage actress. This hidden family exists in stolen moments in a small Parisian apartment on the Left Bank.
It is a house of cards that Margot—fueled by a longing to be seen and heard—decides to tumble. The summer of her seventeenth birthday, she meets the man who will set her plan in motion: a well-regarded journalist whose trust seems surprisingly easy to gain. But as Margot is drawn into an adult world she struggles to comprehend, she learns how one impulsive decision can threaten a family’s love with ruin, shattering the lives of those around her in ways she could never have imagined.
Exposing the seams between private lives and public faces, The Margot Affair is a novel of deceit, desire, and transgression—and the exhilarating knife-edge upon which the danger of telling the truth outweighs the cost of keeping secrets.
“Betrayal and desire fuel the story of Margot, the secret daughter of a 20-year affair between a French politician and a famous actress... It’s impossible not to love Margot’s delicate mixture of maturity and naïveté. This is a startling, affecting first book by an author who is confident in her craft, who knows that a loving portrait includes flaws.”
New York Times Book Review (full review)
“Visually and emotionally precise... an engrossing, impressive debut novel that skillfully charts a young Frenchwoman’s coming-of-age.”
Kirkus Reviews (full review)
“Sumptuous... enthralling... [a] dramatic exploration of family and the trials of early adulthood. [A]nyone who appreciates an emotionally rewarding story will enjoy Lemoine’s lush, well-crafted tale.”
Publishers Weekly (full review)
“[A] perfect mix of literary and entertaining... This is one of those books that you didn’t know you needed until you read the first few pages and you go: oh, I’m home.”
Lit Hub (full review)
“The poetics of damage, and the unpredictable ways that desire twines around loss, secrets, and lies, are at the heart of this extraordinary debut. Sanaë Lemoine is fearless and almost unbearably tender in her exploration of all the ways we both exalt and wound one another.”
Stacey D'Erasmo, author of Wonderland
“Powerful and affecting… A truly exceptional piece of writing, an unfailingly intelligent and honest psychological portrait.”
Rivka Galchen, author of American Innovations
“The Margot Affair is the story of a seventeen-year old who rocks her country and her family, a child who was meant to stay a secret but refuses to hide. Sanaë Lemoine is an extraordinary new talent. One who makes an intergenerational story of loneliness and intrigue read like a diary and a page-turner and a masterful debut, all at once.”
Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling
“A stunning debut, simmering with tension and sensuality. This jewel of a novel examines the in-between spaces in life—that confusing and exhilarating threshold before adulthood, the frighteningly blurry line between friendship and exploitation, and the secrets that buttress our private and public selves. A mesmerizing story by an important new voice.”
Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me
“The Margot Affair builds to an unexpected heat, its final scenes as hot to the touch as sand at midday. Lemoine writes with exquisite precision and insight, what an extraordinary, gorgeous novel.”
Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew
“Poised, coolly beguiling and deeply compelling, Lemoine’s debut casts a powerful spell. Like her indelible teenage heroine, the author’s wisdom seems to exceed her years.”
Hermione Hoby, author of Neon in Daylight
“A deeply immersive novel about the ways in which your family may fail you... Written in graceful prose carrying clairvoyant insights, its wisdom stayed with me.”
Ling Ma, author of Severance