The Lost Daughter

The Lost Daughter

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Overview

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

From the author of My Brilliant Friend

Leda is a middle-aged divorcée devoted to her work as an English teacher and to her two children. When her daughters leave home to be with their father in Canada, Leda anticipates a period of loneliness and longing. Instead, slightly embarassed by the sensation, she feels liberated, as if her life has become lighter, easier. She decides to take a holiday by the sea, in a small coastal town in southern Italy. But after a few days of calm and quiet, things begin to take a menacing turn. Leda encounters a family whose brash presence proves unsettling, at times even threatening. When a small, seemingly meaningless, event occurs, Leda is overwhelmed by memories of the difficult and unconventional choices she made as a mother and their consequences for herself and her family. The apparently serene tale of a woman's pleasant rediscovery of herself soon becomes the story of a ferocious confrontation with an unsettled past.

Following the extraordinary success of The Days of Abandonment , Elena Ferrante's standalone novel The Lost Daughter candidly explores the conflicting emotions that tie us to our children.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781933372426
Publisher: Europa Editions, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/01/2008
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 260,152
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

Elena Ferrante  is the author of  The Days of Abandonment  (Europa, 2005),  Troubling Love  (Europa, 2006),  The Lost Daughter  (Europa, 2008) and the Neapolitan Quartet (Europa 2012-2015). She is also the author of a children’s picture book illustrated by Mara Cerri,  The Beach at Night.

Ann Goldstein  is an editor at  The New Yorker. Her translations for Europa Editions include novels by Amara Lakhous, Alessandro Piperno, and Elena Ferrante's bestselling  My Brilliant Friend. She lives in New York.

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Lost Daughter 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like Hemingway, you will like Ferrante's similar terse, to-the-point writing which bypasses the flowery, wordy novel styles and gets your attention immediately and holds it. Found this book with much help by the B&N staff since it was not listed by author but rather by the translator, Ann Goldstein. Worth the effort; an unusual story and excellent writing.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“Life can have an ironic geometry. Starting from the age of thirteen or fourteen I had aspired to a bourgeois decorum, proper Italian, a good life, cultured and reflective. Naples had seemed a wave that would drown me. I didn’t think the city could contain life forms different from those I had known as a child, violent or sensually lazy, tinged with sentimental vulgarity or obtusely fortified in defense of their own wretched degradation” The Lost Daughter is the third novel by Italian author, Elena Ferrante. An English professor in Florence, 47-year-old Leda takes a summer vacation on the coast. She is divorced, and her two adult daughters live in Canada with their father. On the beach, she encounters an extended Neapolitan family that reminds her of her own childhood, her youth and the life choices she made: “In the first year of Marta’s life I discovered I no longer loved my husband. A hard year, the baby barely slept and wouldn’t let me sleep. Physical tiredness is a great magnifying glass…..Love requires energy, I had none left”. About her own mother, Leda says “I suspected that she had begun to flee the moment she had me in her womb, even though as I grew up, everyone said that I resembled her. There were resemblances, but they seemed to me faded. Not even when I discovered that I was attractive to men was I appeased. She emanated a vital warmth, whereas I felt cold, as if I had veins of metal……I wanted to be like her in the capacity she had to expand and become essence on the streets, in the subway or the funicular, in the shops, under the eyes of strangers. No instrument of reproduction can capture that enchanted aura. Not even the pregnant belly can replicate it precisely” Leda states she is an “unnatural mother”, and proves this with her own mothering experience: “The children stared at me. I felt their gazes longing to tame me, but more brilliant was the brightness of the life outside them, new colors, new bodies, new intelligence, a language to possess finally as if it were my true language, and nothing, nothing that seemed to me reconcilable with that domestic space from which they stared at me with expectation”. Her actions during this seaside stay reinforce this. Leda is callously candid about her feelings towards her children: “I observed my daughters when they weren’t paying attention, I felt for them a complicated alternation of sympathy and antipathy……Even when I recognised in the two girls what I considered my own good qualities I felt that something wasn’t right. I had the impression that they didn’t know how to make good use of those qualities, that the best part of me ended up in their bodies as a mistaken graft, a parody, and I was angry, ashamed” Whether or not due to her own attitude, “My daughters make a constant effort to be the reverse of me. They are clever, they are competent, their father is starting them out on his path. Determined and terrified, they advance like whirlwinds through the world”. Ferrante is not afraid to create a main character who is, for the most part, unappealing. Nina’s violent reaction against Leda is wholly deserved. Despite some marvellous descriptive prose, this is not a pleasant read. Powerful and thought-provoking.
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