The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

Spoilers abound.

The good: there are far fewer of those make-you-want-to-vomit-your-last-feed comparisons she makes. The ones she does make are fabulously ludicrously inept.

For instance: she describes stealing a doll from a little girl who is extremely attached to it as ‘A gesture like you make in sleep, when you turn over in bed and upset the lamp on the night table.’ Huh?

And here: she has decided to leave her husband and children to hang out with an old heavyweight academic who has the hots for her. She describes that as ‘I had run away like a burn victim who, screaming, tears off the burned skin, believing that she is tearing off the burning herself.’

One can see – again – why Ferrante wanted to be anonymous. I’m kind of amazed and impressed that a person can proclaim to the world how completely repulsive she is. She does it over and over again and there can’t be anything she is holding back. Not from somebody who is willing to talk about the things of which she writes. I wonder how many women and mothers are really like this? Are we supposed to think that she is neurotic, mentally ill, way out there? Or normal, this is what it is like for women?

I love, again, her depictions of ordinary people. But as I have complained about elsewhere, she falls down in her constant obsession with herself. I keep wanting to say, every time she starts on about her ghastliness, enough already. We get it. Yet, take it away and she doesn’t have a story.

I want to ask ‘Who wants to read over and over again her maudlin reveries about her own inadequate existence?’ I suppose the answer could be ‘Me’, apparently. But to be fair, I started with the Neopolitan series. It has a proper saga-like story line. I bought up a few more in Rome a few months ago and here I am. Stuck with them. But this excuse will only work if I don’t buy any more and my sneaking suspicion is that I would buy another one. Just to complain about it again. I seem to be trapped in this woman’s life as much as she is. Damn it.

One thought on “The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

  1. Well, I do start to see why so many people compare her with Knausgård. Except that I don’t think he’s quite as as good at projecting an idealised, rosy-tinted view of himself.

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