Review: The Margot Affair by Sanaë Lemoine

Before I begin, I’d like to recommend that you queue up your favorite French composer to play as a soundtrack behind your reading of this book.  I love Ravel, but you can pick whoever you’d like.  Also, Sanaë Lemoine’s website has recipes for the dishes talked about in the book!  Whip up some clafoutis before you crack open this read!

The Margot Affair is a beautifully constructed debut novel from Sanaë Lemoine.  Following Margot Louve, the opening chapters highlight the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter, which becomes even more nuanced with the added layer of a dark secret.  Margot is the daughter, borne from a romance between her mother, an actress, and her father, a political figure of importance who happens to also be married to someone else.

As the narrative progresses, the writing focuses on the dynamic, emotional relationship between Margot and her parents.  Her actress mother, Anouk, and largely absent father, a teacher turned politician.  These chapters are full of descriptive language that pulls you into Margot’s Paris apartment and paints a vivid picture of her delicate world.  The reader is taken on a journey through her inner monologue, weaving through her desire to be closer to her mother and to feel wanted, her conflicting thoughts about her father’s other family, and her absolute longing for a complete family unit filled with love and compassion.  The reader can feel Margot’s desperation as she describes her distant relationship with her mother, an actress who tends to stay in character, even when the play has concluded. 

Throughout the narrative, the author returns to a familiar theme of space:  how do we shape the space in which we exist and where is the center.  This recurring motif inspires the reader to think critically about their space and how they exist inside of it.  The author explores the incredibly nuanced question that many people deal with:  is it better to tell the truth, or keep a secret.

I love the style choices in this book, particularly the lack of quotation marks.  The pages blend into a seamless narrative of an extremely personal nature.  I read this novel as if it were Margot’s internal monologue.  This nicely compliments the abundance of descriptive language, but does not burden the reader with explicit exposition.  It is subtle, beautiful, and I could not put this book down.

This work does contain elements of emotional abuse, attempted suicide, and sexual content.

The Margot Affair is published by Hogarth and will be celebrating it’s book birthday on June 16, 2020!  This book NEEDS to be on your To Be Read list this summer! 

Check out The Margot Affair on goodreads and Sanaë Lemoine’s website.

I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley and Random House.


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