An “exquisite” (The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice) and “wonderfully Parisian” (Leila Slimani, author of The Perfect Nanny) debut novel of intrigue and deception.
“Betrayal and desire fuel the story of Margot, the secret daughter of a twenty-year affair between a French politician and a famous actress. . . . A startling, affecting first book by an author who is confident in her craft.”—The New York Times
Margot Louve has lived her whole life as a secret. The hidden daughter of a long-standing affair, she exists with her mother in the shadows, living in a small Parisian apartment on the Left Bank.
It is a house of cards that Margot—fueled by a longing to be seen and heard—decides to tumble. The summer of her seventeenth birthday, she meets a well-regarded journalist who will set her plan in motion.
But as Margot is drawn into an adult world she struggles to comprehend, she learns how one impulsive decision can shatter the lives of those around her in ways she could never have imagined. Incisively exposing the seams between private lives and public faces, The Margot Affair is a simmering exploration of desire, transgression, and the dangers of speaking the truth.
About the Author
Sanaë Lemoine was born in Paris to a Japanese mother and French father, and raised in France and Australia. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her MFA at Columbia University. She now lives in New York.
“A diary and a page-turner and a masterful debut, all at once.”—Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling
“Gorgeous . . . very French. . . in lush, lyrical prose that perfectly captures the heightened emotion and confusion of being a young woman with a bruised heart and limited experience. Though the book seems to be about an absent father, it’s more about a tricky mother, and about motherhood in general. It asks the ultimate question about this most complicated of relationships: What will a mother do for her child?”—Sarah Lyall, The New York Times (Daily Review)
"Drumming with tension, The Margot Affair grapples with the complexity of familial love."—Marie Claire
“[A] perfect mix of literary and entertaining . . . This is one of those books that you didn’t know you needed until you read the first few pages and you go: oh, I’m home.”—LitHub
“Unusual and accomplished . . . Ms. Lemoine’s story moves in intriguing leaps and twists until her real subject is revealed. . . . Using clever anecdotes, nods to French cinema and allusions to Bonjour Tristesse, Françoise Sagan’s classic coming-of-age tale, the novel asks what exactly makes a “good mother.” . . . Good novels can supply insights into other cultures, and, for outsiders, one of this book’s pleasures is the glimpse it affords into French mores and habits. . . . Here she lifts the window slats not just on the covert behavior of consenting adults, but on many facets of bourgeois Parisian life.”—The Economist
“ . . . one juicy book. It’s a commentary about the tolls of secrets and power—and will make you feel like you’re sitting in a Parisian café the whole time.”—The Skimm
“Subtle, beautiful, serious.”—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
“A deeply immersive novel about the ways in which your family may fail you . . . Written in graceful prose carrying clairvoyant insights, its wisdom stayed with me.”—Ling Ma, author of Severance
“A stunning debut, simmering with tension and sensuality. This jewel of a novel examines the in-between spaces in life. . . . A mesmerizing story by an important new voice.”—Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me
“Astonishing . . . Sanaë Lemoine is fearless and almost unbearably tender in her exploration of all the ways we both exalt and wound one another.”—Stacey D’Erasmo, author of Wonderland
“An extraordinary, gorgeous novel . . . With exquisite precision and insight, The Margot Affair builds to an unexpected heat.”—Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew
“Poised, coolly beguiling, and deeply compelling, Lemoine’s debut casts a powerful spell.”—Hermione Hoby, author of Neon in Daylight
“A brave portrayal of love in all of its complexities."—Jessica Andrews, author of Saltwater
“Powerful and affecting . . . truly exceptional.”—Rivka Galchen, author of Little Labors