The award-winning novels of Annie Ernaux are controversial, innovative, and address the topical issues of gender and social class. Surprisingly, there has been no major study of her work, despite the fact that it is increasingly taught and has been widely translated. This book fills that gap by presenting Ernaux's work through a range of readings: those of the author herself, those of academics, of reviewers and of 'ordinary' readers. Ernaux's own curiosity about the relationship between writing and the reality she is describing leads her to adopt a self-reflective approach to the narration of her life experience. This stimulating introduction to her work reflects both on the relationship between writing and identity in general terms, and specifically on the process of writing literary criticism. In the final chapter the impersonal register of academic writing is extended by a more personal dialogue with Ernaux's texts. What emerges is a new critical method that explores the multiple relationships between readers and texts. The first work in English on Annie Ernaux, this book goes far beyond traditional analyses to address the fundamental question of critical writing and to present a new methodology for the study of literary texts. It is thus essential reading for those interested in French literature, critical theory, gender and cultural studies.