Elena Ferrante: The Days of Abandonment

I have had this book on my shelf for quite a while. Elena Ferrante is an interesting and mysterious author. She hides in a shadow of anonymity, apparently not wanting pictures or details of who she is to get in the way of the story she is telling. Of course, people keep trying to get her to show up and let the world know who she is. A while ago there was a bit of a flap over the fact that she might indeed be a man. So as I was taking in all that I was a bit put off about actually reading her books.

But then a friend told me that she was reading Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and could not get enough of her writing. So that encouraged me to pull The Days of Abandonment off the shelf. It’s a short book, less than 200 pages, but it is really intense. The story of a woman sinking into despair after her husband leaves her is accentuated with long, furious sentences. The description of her thinking and her actions gives the reader a real sense of life turned over into a never-ending eddy of swirling emotions. It’s a very hard book to pick up and a very hard book to put down. As the narrative continued I had this growing dread, increasingly thinking that this was not going to end well. Fortunately, it does end and it does not end badly. Phew!

The writing is amazing, so I assume it is so in Italian as well. Applause here must go to the translator who gives us Ferrante’s brilliance in equally brilliant English. I will look forward (I think) to reading more of her writing especially the Neapolitan novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.

The Days of Abandonment


One thought on “Elena Ferrante: The Days of Abandonment

  1. Finished reading Days yesterday. Ended up loving it after a dubious start. Thanks for the recommendation. A while back read the four Neapolitan novels…loved them too. May sink into Dorothy Sayers next. Thanks!


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