Consent: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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Consent: A Memoir (Hardcover)


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Staff Reviews

Thought-provoking, loving, and tragic all at the same. Jill Ciment reflects on her marriage post-MeToo movement, posing the question - can she still say her marriage was blissful and loving if it started with her art teacher, thirty years older than her, preying on her when she was sixteen?

— Lauren

From the acclaimed novelist (“A virtuoso”—Donna Seaman, Booklist), a deft, shocking memoir that asks whether we can judge past behavior by today’s moral codes, as the author reevaluates her decades-long marriage to the forty-seven-year-old man she met when she was seventeen, revisiting a singular passion in the 21st-century aftermath of #MeToo.

“Few writers can tackle the bedroom—or female libido . . . but Ciment is a master: in exquisitely spare prose, she nails it.” — The New York Times

In this unflinching account of the ardent love affair between the author and her painting teacher, which began in the 1970s, when she was a teenager and he was married with two children, Ciment not only reflects on how their love ignited (who leaned in first for that kiss?) but interrogates her 1996 memoir on the subject, Half a Life. She asks herself if she told the whole truth back then, and what truth looked like to her in the even longer-ago era of love-bead curtains when she fell in love, when no one asked who was served by the permissibility around a May-December romance. In the light of #metoo, with new understanding about the balance of power between an older man and an underage girl, Ciment re-explores the erotic wild ride and intellectual flowering that shaped an improbable but blissful marriage that lasted for forty-five years, until her husband’s death at ninety-three.

This riveting book about art, memory, and morality asks many questions along the way: Does a story’s ending excuse its beginning? Does a kiss in one moment mean something else entirely five decades later? Can a love that starts with such an asymmetrical balance of power ever right itself? Suffused with the wisdom that comes with time, Consent is an author’s brave recasting of her life’s settled narrative, and an urgent read for women of all ages.
JILL CIMENT, the author, most recently, of the novel The Body in Question (a New York Times Notable Book), has been the recipient of numerous honors, among them a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and a Guggenheim fellowship. Ciment, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida, was born in Montreal, Canada; she now lives in Gainesville and New York City.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593701065
ISBN-10: 0593701062
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication Date: June 11th, 2024
Pages: 160
Language: English
“Frank, provocative and deeply compelling.”People
“Remarkable . . . at once forthright, thoughtful, and moving. . . . This is a book poised to fuel plenty of discussion.” —Heller McAlpin, NPR
“Arresting. . . . Bold. . . . Ciment has given readers a brave and beautiful variant on the #MeToo memoir.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air
“Enthralling. . . . In Consent, Ciment revisits what she wrote back [in Half a Life], re-scrutinizes the memories she tapped and the story she built from them, and then brings the history of her marriage.” —Slate
“Early in Consent Ciment asks whether her marriage was all ‘fruit from the poisonous tree.’ It is a daring question, and she is unsentimental and unflinching enough to answer it convincingly, which is to say, complexly. She shrinks from nothing in her accounting: not from Arnold’s sordid advances, not from her teenage naiveté, not from the many indignities of her situation. Nor does she shrink from the most scandalous surprise of all: the possibility of a love forceful enough to overturn the habitual hierarchies.” —Becca Rothfeld, The Washington Post
“Fiercely honest yet delicate. . . . Ciment reexamines her relationship and the project of memoir writing itself: whose memories count and how stories of our youth get reconfigured with the passage of time.” —Oprah Daily 

“In this sharply candid anatomy of a relationship and spellcasting remembrance, Ciment reflects on the dubious start to their union and how their roles switched over time. By turns stinging, hilarious, and poignant, this is rare and luminous testimony to creativity, commitment, and love over all.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“Candid. . . . A hot bullet of a memoir.” Kirkus Reviews

Consent just might be the new gold standard for the memoir. By revisiting a part of her life that she wrote about nearly three decades ago, comparing her then-account to the way she would describe the same events today, Jill Ciment asks exhilarating questions about who we are, how we let the stories we tell ourselves and others settle and define us. What makes Consent so fascinating is that Ciment kept the tapes: her previous account makes her able to turn her memories at different angles against the light. What really happened? Everything in her first memoir was true, and the story hasn’t changed (it is still, at its heart, a love story). Yet something has changed. Ciment tackles deep and painful issues without any fuss. In prose that is concise yet warm, unsparingly honest and often hilarious, she gives us this rarest of gifts: a book that is both urgently of its moment and absolutely timeless.” —Camille Bordas, author of How to Behave in A Crowd and The Material
“In her new memoir, Ciment revisits the scandalous romance that became the defining fact of her personal life—her passionate and enduring relationship with a man thirty years her senior, begun when she was a teenager.  In her fiercely intelligent and imaginative style, Ciment interrogates her memories through a new lens, and in the process creates an indelible portrait not just of a marriage, but of the remembering mind, its revisions and revelations.” —Jo Ann Beard, author of The Boys of My Youth and Festival Days
“In Consent, Ciment explores deep and difficult questions about her lifelong relationship with her much older husband. Her writing, as always, is imaginative, funny, and thoroughly entertaining as she reflects upon the ethics of their relationship. Her story resonates today, maybe even more than it did when it happened.” —Nicole Holofcener, American Film Director and Writer of You Hurt My Feelings