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Review of Love Me Tender by Constance Debre

Set in Paris, this debut is autofiction about a strained relationship between mother and son. When Constance's ex-husband takes her to court, claiming incest and requesting custody of their son because she has started dating women, this short book

tells the tale of her feelings following. Watching her son grow up from afar, the writing here is indeed tender but it is also equal parts deadpan and spare. For example, the first page opens with Constance's wondering of why she can't 'break up' with her son; what makes their relationship different from other kinds of love?

I found this kind of writing a little hard to reckon with but there were moments that had my heart such as when Constance is performing the 'spider patrol' routine before her son, Paul, goes to bed and how she reflects on choosing his name:

"That's something that doesn't exist in any other form of love, choosing a name for somebody".

I'm still not sure what I think of the characters in this debut but I think that is probably the point. The protagonist and the plotline is messy; definitely one for fans of complicated female characters. But I liked that she defied the narrow definitions of what a mother should be, exploring her lesbianism and being true to herself. That said, I think it was more the style than the substance that I liked about this novel. It's a little niche so maybe not for everyone but it's definitely one that's wormed it's way into my brain and if it sounds like your kind of thing, I would recommend.

Review by Abi.

Love Me Tender was published on 08/01/23 by Serpent's Tail.

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