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In this unflinching account of the ardent love affair between the author and her painting teacher, which began in the 1970s, when she was 16 and he was 47 and married with two children, Ciment not only reflects how their love ignited (who leaned in first for that first kiss?) but interrogates her 1996 memoir on the subject, Half a Life. She asks herself if she told the whole truth when she wrote about their passion back then, and what truth looked like to her in the even longer-ago era of love-bead curtains when she fell in love, when no one asked who was served by the permissibility around a May-December romance. In the light of #metoo, with new understanding about the balance of power between an older man and an underage girl, Ciment re-explores the erotic wild ride and intellectual flowering that shaped an improbable but blissful marriage that lasted for forty-five years, until her husband’s death at ninety-three.

This stunningly candid book about art, memory, and morality asks many questions along the way: Does a story’s ending excuse its beginning? Does a kiss in one moment mean something else entirely five decades later? Can a love that starts with such an asymmetrical balance of power ever right itself? Suffused with the wisdom that comes with time, CONSENT is an author’s brave recasting of her life’s settled narrative, and an urgent read for women of all ages.