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The Days of Abandonment

The Days of Abandonment

4.0 7
by Elena Ferrante

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"She is among the greatest Italian authors of recent years."-Corriere della Sera

"Ferrante dissects the personal microcosm so well, and with awesome lucidity and precision shows us the meanderings of a woman's mind, the suffering that accompanies being abandoned, and the awful rumbling of time passing."-El Mundo

"Elena Ferrante has given us


"She is among the greatest Italian authors of recent years."-Corriere della Sera

"Ferrante dissects the personal microcosm so well, and with awesome lucidity and precision shows us the meanderings of a woman's mind, the suffering that accompanies being abandoned, and the awful rumbling of time passing."-El Mundo

"Elena Ferrante has given us a startlingly beautiful novel of exceptional and bold strength."-Il Manifesto

"Severe and rigorously unsentimental, packed full of passages written with dizzying intensity at a rare and acute pitch. Ferrante is at her best when her writing holds tight to those nagging, niggling obsessions that make up our mental landscapes."-La Stampa

A national bestseller for almost an entire year, The Days of Abandonment shocked and captivated its Italian public when first published. It is the gripping story of a woman's descent into devastating emptiness after being abandoned by her husband with two young children to care for. When she finds herself literally trapped within the four walls of their high-rise apartment, she is forced to confront her ghosts, the potential loss of her own identity, and the possibility that life may never return to normal.

Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
The template for the hot-blooded Italian best seller The Days of Abandonment is familiar, in fiction and in life. But the raging, torrential voice of the author is something rare. Using the secret of her identity to elevate this book's already high drama, the author (Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym) describes the violent rupture of a marriage with all the inner tranquillity that you might associate with Medea. When her book's heroine has the temerity to invoke Anna Karenina approaching the railroad tracks, the analogy is actually well earned.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Once an aspiring writer, Olga traded literary ambition for marriage and motherhood; when Mario dumps her after 15 years, she is utterly unprepared. Though she tells herself that she is a competent woman, nothing like the poverella (poor abandoned wife) that mothers whispered about in her childhood, Olga falls completely apart. Routine chores overwhelm her; she neglects her appearance and forgets her manners; she throws herself at the older musician downstairs; she sees the poverella's ghost. After months of self-pity, anger, doubt, fury, desperation and near madness, her acknowledgments of weaknesses in the marriage feel as earned as they are unsurprising. Smoothly translated by New Yorker editor Goldstein, this intelligent and darkly comic novel-which sat atop Italian bestseller lists for nearly a year, has been translated into 12 languages and adapted for an Italian film slated for 2006 release-conveys the resilience of a complex woman. Speculation about the identity of the pseudonymous Ferrante, whose previous novel is scheduled for 2006 release by Europa, has reached Pynchon-like proportions in Italy. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
First published in Italy in 2002, this book tells the timeless story of a married man leaving his wife for a much younger woman. Narrator Olga describes how her husband Mario tells her matter-of-factly about his lover after lunch one afternoon. As a metaphor for her situation, Olga invokes the "legend" of the poverella (literally the "poor woman"), who loses her home, marriage, and financial and emotional stability when her husband leaves her. Olga makes an effort to stave off that fate-she does not scream or rebuke Mario for abandoning her and her young children for a while, instead maintaining an eerie calm. Her emotions eventually boil over, however, and humiliation and anger come off her like molten lava, searing everything that they touch. Olga candidly describes the anxiety, fear, and tumult that lead from her trying to hurt Mario and his young lover to her creating a peaceful home for her and her children. In the end, she finds her own way out. Raw and gut-wrenching, this book will find fans in literary fiction readers but not among the timid. For medium and larger public libraries with contemporary fiction collections.-Lisa Nussbaum, Dauphin Cty. Lib. Syst., Harrisburg, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Meet the Author

Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. Though she is one of Italy's most important and acclaimed contemporary authors, her identity is a mystery. Theories and speculation as to who Elena Ferrante really is continue to circulate; however, the author has successfully shunned public attention and has been able to keep her whereabouts and her true identity concealed. The Days of Abandonment, her second novel, is currently being made into a film by director Roberto Faenza, due for release in North America in 2006.

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The Days of Abandonment 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The Days of Abandonment is the second novel by Italian author, Elena Ferrante. When Mario announces after dinner that he intends to leave Olga after fifteen years of marriage, she at first believes this is another “absence of sense”, as Mario referred to his infatuation with fifteen-year-old Carla, five years earlier. She tries to discuss things calmly, as they have always done: “I hated raised voices, movements that were too brusque. My own family was full of noisy emotions, always on display, and I felt that I was inside a clamorous life and that everything might come apart because of a too piercing sentence, an ungentle movement of the body”. Olga had given up her own ambition to become a writer (“I was young, I had pretensions. I didn’t like the impenetrable page, like a lowered blind. I liked light, air between the slats. I wanted to write stories full of breezes, of filtered rays where dust motes danced… I loved writers who made you look through every line, to gaze downward and feel the vertigo of the depths, the blackness of inferno”) to support Mario and care for their children. Now, suddenly alone, abandoned with just her two young children, Olga spirals through anger into deep despair. She alienates friends: “…so even the very few people who still tried to help me withdrew in the end: it was difficult to put up with me. I found myself alone and frightened by my own desperation”; she questions who and what she is: “…perhaps I would understand better why he had gone and why I, who had always set against the occasional emotional confusion the stable order of our affections, now felt so violently the bitterness of loss, an intolerable grief, the anxiety of falling out of the web of certainty and having to relearn life without the security of knowing how to do it” Olga reaches a crisis point, descending into a dangerous mental and physical state: “I had only to quiet the view inside, the thoughts. They got mixed up, they crowded in on one another, shreds of words and images, buzzing frantically, like a swarm of wasps…”, she behaves in a completely uncharacteristic manner, before she eventually gains a new sense of herself: “Perhaps I remained beautiful even if my husband had rolled up the sense of my beauty into a ball and thrown it into the wastepaper basket, like wrapping paper”. Ferrante certainly knows how to convey the myriad of emotions, the stages of loss that accompany a marital breakdown. Readers should be prepared for the explicit language that reflects the depth of Olga’s anger. This dark tale, filled with marvellous descriptive prose, has a hopeful ending. A powerful read. 4.5 stars
Anonymous 3 months ago
Like The Bell Jar but with shrinking instead of growing relevant insights as book progresses
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her writing is amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RANYC More than 1 year ago
Elena Ferrante is one of the most interesting writers around. Her Neapolitan novels (2 available in translation; 2 to come) are fantastic. Highly recommend this one, too, about a woman whose marriage ends and the ways she falls apart--and puts herself together again. Short, brutal, beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hang on to the end. It's worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why is she naked?