Wednesday, December 28, 2011

REVIEW: The Lost Daughter, by Elena Ferrante

The Lost Daughter, by Elena Ferrante. Published 2008 by Europa Editions. Literary Fiction. Translated from the Italian.

A divorced Italian woman, an academic, goes on vacation to a beach resort; she rents a small house and stays by herself. She spends her days between the beach and small bars and cafes. She reminisces to herself about her life as a mother and her relationship with her daughters. She meets a loud, obnoxious family on the beach, a mother with a small child surrounded by relatives. The little girl loses her doll, and the narrator commits a senseless act of cruelty.

As one reviewer put it, The Lost Daughter reads like a psychological thriller. The narrator struggles with highly ambivalent feelings towards her children as the encounter with the family she meets on the beach stimulates feelings and memories and causes her to reflect on her own life. The prose is tough and uncompromising; this is no sentimental Mother's Day card of a book. The narrator has a lot of anger towards her daughters and towards herself. Though she loves her daughters, she has no illusions either that motherhood was a garden of roses, or that her daughters' childhood was.

The Lost Daughter is the kind of edgy, hard book that Europa specializes in. It takes a subject about which much has been written and casts a new light on it, or at least a light seldom shone. Not being a mother myself I can't say how well mothers will relate to it, but I have a feeling that somewhere this book will resonate with anyone who's loved anyone, not just mothers and children. It's about the dark side of love, the underside of it if you will, and it will challenge the reader to confront dark feelings of his or her own. It's also a very quick read, suspenseful and gripping, that will keep you turning the pages, and keep you thinking once you've put the book down.

This is my last book in the Europa Challenge 2011 and I've completed Amante Level!

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

9 comments:

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

There is a dark side to everything including love. Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood shows how love can turn sour especially when the lover is dejected. This is a difficult subject to discuss.

bermudaonion said...

I love the fact that it tackles a subject most people don't want to talk about - the fact that not every mother loves being a mother. The book sounds fascinating!

Andi said...

I've done a lot of writing on my blog about motherhood and reading lately and the relationship therein. This book sounds REALLY interesting and worth pondering, though I wonder if it would rip my heart out. lol Sometimes that's a good thing.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Well, gosh, don't know what to say about that cover! LOL

Col (Col Reads) said...

Wow, this sounds fantastic. I just love when an author takes something we think we know everything about, and makes us look at it differently. Thanks for this great review, and for hosting the Europa Challenge!

Zibilee said...

Like Jill, that cover just really grabbed my attention, and coupled with the subject matter and how it's handled, I think this would be a book that I really would be intrigued with. As a matter of fact, I am intrigued by your review of it, and think that your reflections were both astute and very penetrating. Fantastic review today!

Vasilly said...

I've had this book for a long time now. Reading your review of it, makes me want to read it really soon. Thanks for such a great review.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Mother/children relationships are very hairy, and will forever provide oodles of content for any author. It is kind of treacherous though, because you stand to really turn people off. Sounds like this lady found the right balance. I'm intrigued.

JoAnn said...

Just bought this one... it will be my first Europa of 2012!