Saskia and Jenny are twins who are alike only in appearance. Saskia is a hard-working grad student whose interests are solely academic, while Jenny, an interior designer, is glamourous, thrill-seeking, capricious and narcissistic. Still, when Jenny is severely injured in an accident, Saskia puts her life on hold to be with her sister.
Sara and Mattie are sisters with a difficult relationship. Mattie, the younger sister, is affectionate, curious and intellectually disabled. As soon as Sara is able, she leaves home, in pursuit of a life of the mind and the body: she loves nothing more than fine wines, sensual perfumes and expensive clothing. But when their mother dies, Sara inherits the duty of caring for her sister. Arriving at the house one day, she finds out that Mattie has married Robert, her wealthy mother's handyman. Though Mattie seems happy, Sara cannot let this go, forcing the annulment of the marriage and the banishment of Robert. With him out of the picture, though, she has no choice but to become her sister's keeper, sacrificing her own happiness and Mattie's too. When Robert turns up again, another tragedy happens. The waves from these events eventually engulf Sara and Saskia, sisters in mourning, in a quest for revenge. (From Random House Canada)
Consent was on the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.
Annabel Lyon is a writer from Vancouver. Her novel The Golden Mean won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. Her other books include the short story collection Oxygen, the novella collection The Best Thing for You and the young adult novels All-Season Edie and Encore Edie.
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From the book
Mattie was fine by herself at night and could do simple meals and baking, tea and toast, soup from a can, grilled cheese, salad, pudding, cookies even. She had her bus pass. During the day she had her job at the workshop and her crafts at the drop-in centre. At night she watched movies and talked with her workshop friends on the phone. Sara usually called her once or twice each day to make sure she was all right, and visited three or four times a week to help with cleaning and shopping, and to keep her company now that their mother was no longer there. Mattie couldn't drive a car or concentrate on a book and she needed help with bigger sums of money, but in a short interaction with her you would not necessarily know these things. She was sweet and friendly and wore expensive nice clothes chosen by Sara and their mother.
Robert, though, she told the lawyer, would have known.
From Consent by Annabel Lyon ©2020. Published by Random House Canada.
"This novel began, way back in 2004, when a lawyer acquaintance of mine told me about a case. It was about a young woman with a mental disability who had gotten married without her family's knowledge or consent to a man who was basically after the family money. It was quite a wealthy family. The family, very unhappily and regretfully, had to go before a judge and have her declared incompetent and have the marriage annulled on those grounds.
I'm not a black-and-white person — I'm a 'shades of grey' person.- Annabel Lyon
"Exploring the bond between sisters came from an interest in the idea of caregiving — and how consent and caregiving can intersect. In the #MeToo era, we think of consent now as being very much about sexual consent.
"But it can be about something else. When we're dealing with family members, we can be forced into roles of caregivers. It's harder to say no. It can be a loving and a wonderful thing. But it can also be a burden that is really, really hard to talk about. It's a bit of a taboo to say, 'I have been put into a position of caregiving and I don't know if I'm comfortable with it.'
"I'm not a black-and-white person — I'm a 'shades of grey' person."