“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.”
French teenager Margot is the illegitimate daughter of a prominent stage actress and an influential politician. The comings and goings of their unconventional family, in a small Parisian apartment, cast her whole life under a veil of secrecy and shame.
One summer, Margot decides to exercise her own agency when she meets a well-regarded journalist whose trust seems surprisingly easy to gain. But as Margot is drawn into an adult world, she learns how one impulsive decision can change the contours of her life, and the lives of those around her, in ways she could never have imagined.
In this simmering debut Sanaë Lemoine explores private and public faces, truth and deceit, love and persuasion. The Margot Affair is a novel about the bone-deep bond between mothers and daughters, the devotion and betrayal of friendship and the dangers of pushing beyond the boundaries of a life lived in the shadows.
"An unusual and accomplished first novel... moves in intriguing leaps and twists.”
The Economist (full review)
"Absorbing... The emotional mapping of the novel is intricate and precise... Lemoine captures with painful accuracy the clumsy ignorance of adolescence."
The Financial Times (full review)
"Deftly crafted, thoughtfully observed, this absorbing coming-of-age novel explores the tense and complex relationship between Anouk and Margot, the notions of family and motherhood, deceit and betrayal."
Fanny Blake, Daily Mail
"Drumming with tension, The Margot Affair grapples with the complexity of familial love."
"A raw, honest account of the tenderness and cruelty that lurks between mothers and daughters. Lemoine illuminates the ways in which violence and care are strung through generations like nerves and sinews. A brave portrayal of love in all of its complexities that questions whether we should endeavour to hold onto the people we love, or whether we should let them go."
Jessica Andrews, author of Saltwater
"Another coming-of-age tale... about the lasting effects of deceit and betrayal."
"Undoubtedly one of the top literary fiction reads of the summer, this brilliant debut, touted as a 'coming of age' novel, is a wonderful study of the mother-daughter relationship."