Cover Image: Consent

Consent

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Timely certainly, though didn’t seem particularly well written to me. Perhaps a bit too self aware, or too sure of its self.
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The author's exploration of the complexities between these two sets of sisters was realistic and a good read.  The dynamic of going from carefree to having to take care of an intellectually disabled sibling is something that many have to deal with and the author wrote this story in a sensitive way.  I am going to look for more to read by this author in the future.
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I cannot with this book. I was pulled in by the cover, the focus on perfume, and the comparisons to Alice Munro. But...while the prose is often lovely, and the sumptuous fashion, food, and perfume descriptions do indeed live up to the description, this is just a devastatingly sad book. And one of the central characters, Sara, is just so racist and ableist. I know this is part of the 'point,' but it was so hard to read. I adored the character of Mattie and didn't connect with the other pairing as strongly (despite having been an English grad student myself once). In the end, this just seemed like beautiful misery porn.
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Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Though this author’s writing style was not my favorite, I enjoyed the plot and did not guess how the two storylines would meet and intertwine. 3.5 stars.
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Odd, histrionic, compelling, ultimately overwhelmed by its reliance on melodrama, Lyon’s novel nevertheless engages. It’s the quality of the writing and the insights that kept me reading, that and the shopping for clothes and perfume. These outweighed all the high-colored stuff - the deaths, the bondage, the drinking, the implausibility of the connection between the two parallel narratives. Lyon can write and her inclination is toward literary fiction. She needs to find a better vehicle for her qualities.
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I requested this one on a whim and was pleasantly surprised. What a heart-wrenching yet touching story. I actually adored the longer chapters - they felt like short stories. Both "stories" within the book were equally compelling and I loved how they intersected. I will definitely read more of this author.
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This begins as a domestic drama set in Alice Munro-land, but don't draw any conclusions from the pink-toned cover. Two pairs of sisters grow up in upper-middle-class comfort in lily-white Vancouver, surrounded by the trappings of adult femininity: designer dresses, French perfume, heirloom jewelry. But Lyon quickly starts to destabilize the narrative by playing tricks with abrupt time-shifts within individual chapters, and bouncing between two separate points-of-view along parallel tracks. 

Sara, a professor of medical ethics and high-functioning alcoholic, is responsible for caring for her mentally disabled sister, Mattie, who has married the local handyman. Saskia, a dowdy and long-suffering grad student in French literature, lives with her glamorous and impulsive twin sister Jenny, whose mental illness and high-risk behaviors land her in life-threatening danger Lyon deftly explores the concept of sisterly responsibility, and the meanings of consent: medical power of attorney, BDSM between consenting adults, a parent-surrogate's duty of care, being impaired under the influence of drugs and alcohol, manipulation and deceit in close relationships.

When Lyon collided these two threads, the reveal was shockingly unexpected. The novel's second half pulls the reader into some noirish and disturbing places. This was finely-observed psychological realism, and completely satisfying.
 
Thanks to Alex K. for bringing this to my attention! And thanks to Netgalley and Knopf for providing me with an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.
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