The Willing Doll
Original title: La Poupée qui fait oui
This is the book I would have loved to give to my daughter on her sixteenth birthday.
A smart, compelling, multi-narrative novel that explores the question of consent at prestigious universities and among France’s Catholic bourgeoisie.
The late 80s. An engineering school built in a new city far from everything. Hazing, parties, first times. Sixteen-year-old Arielle, who was raised in the polite society of the Versailles elite, fantasizes about boys and sex. As she drifts through this new life so far removed from her roots, she crosses path with Eric, a captivating student six years her senior.
For Inès, her daughter leaving the nest is an opportunity to relive her own past: her break from an insular world molded by tradition, the freedom afforded by a room of her own, and then, all too quickly, a pregnancy, loneliness, and her return to square one.
As Arielle explores the world of sex and tries to find her biological father, Inès increasingly suffers from debilitating fears. What if this heavy silence pollutes their mother-daughter relationship? What if her own flesh and blood is also introduced to sex in a disembodied state?
Unspeakable violence. A reality which Inès can no longer escape, 20 years after the fact. From a tragedy that impacts so many women, Agnès de Clairville has penned a radiant novel in which stupor, anger, tenderness, and ruthless clarity exist side by side.