The Lost Daughter Info

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Average Ratings and Reviews
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3.98

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Reviews for The Lost Daughter:

4

Apr 14, 2009

This is going to sound strange -- I loved this book, but I didn't enjoy it. The story involves a mother of grown daughters who is dealing with her own ambivalence at what she gave up to assume that role. The author manages to take the flicker of lost independence that every mother feels and magnify it and state it in a brutal and unflinching way. I hated the narrator, but I couldn't look away.
4

Aug 24, 2019

Its been awhile since I read - and obsessively enjoyed Elena Ferrantes Neapolitan series. ( especially loved book 2 and 3).....
I went into this book completely blind!!
Its a thin-slim......thick-thought-provoking novella.

I was immediately pulled in from the get-go with these words:
When my daughters moved to Toronto, where their father had lived and worked for years, I was embarrassed and amazed to discover that I wasnt upset; rather, I felt light, as if only then had I definitely brought them It’s been awhile since I read - and ‘obsessively’ enjoyed Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series. ( especially loved book 2 and 3).....
I went into this book completely blind!!
It’s a ‘thin-slim’......’thick-thought’-provoking novella.

I was immediately pulled in from the ‘get-go’ with these words:
“When my daughters moved to Toronto, where their father had lived and worked for years, I was embarrassed and amazed to discover that I wasn’t upset; rather, I felt light, as if only then had I definitely brought them into the world. For the first time in almost twenty-five years I was not aware of the anxiety of having to take care of them. The house was neat, as if no one lived there, I no longer had the constant bother of shopping and doing laundry, the woman who for years had helped with the household chores found a better paying job, and I felt no need to replace her”.

We meet divorced 47 year old Leda. She’s an English Professor.
Summer vacation is just beginning.
Leda feels lighter being completely alone without her two young adult daughters living with her. She calls her daughters on the phone once a day - but is surprisingly ecstatic to be alone.
Leda quickly
becomes physically lighter, eating only one meal a day.
She rents a summer beach house for a six week summer vacation near Naples.... bringing her school books to prepare assignments for when the fall term begins.
Ok.. sounds good - a nice summer-break- beach vacation....⛱...
not so fast...,,
Things become odd - puzzling- mysterious- haunting- and down right creepy!

Leda meets a young family also vacationing at the same beach.
She is fixated with another young mother (Nina), her child ( Elena) and Elena’s doll.
From Leda’s observations - judgements - projections and evaluations of the mother/daughter relationship between Nina & Elena....
Leda’s behavior becomes disturbing. Her choices mysteriously disturbing!
Leda’s inner reflective voice...dialogue with herself is intriguing....and unsettling.

Leda’s memories surface from her own younger days: as a daughter, wife, mother, and lover.
Regrets are heightened.... and an almost Stream of consciousness unfolds.

What emerges is quite dark ...
seriously haunting!

The self-assessment Leda has with herself is conflicting- sad - and psychologically complex.

A very unsettling novel... hard to feel sympathetic for Leda.....yet Elena Ferrante’s writing is gripping.

Rather than leaving this novel with the satisfaction of an insightful resolution-
I’m left with the bare-bone-reality of how devastating and brutally life-altering loss is.




















...more
5

Nov 05, 2014

After four read books, I can conclude that I experience an unconditional devotion to Ferrante's novels and emphatically place her amongst my favorite authors. I simply admire the frankness and the brutality of her thoughts and celebrate eagerly the woman's manifest in each sentence. Ferrante's struggle is to shatter the assumed, especially in conservative societies, image of the woman - the mother, the wife, the housekeeper. This is the similarity I find in each novel - the endeavor to redeem After four read books, I can conclude that I experience an unconditional devotion to Ferrante's novels and emphatically place her amongst my favorite authors. I simply admire the frankness and the brutality of her thoughts and celebrate eagerly the woman's manifest in each sentence. Ferrante's struggle is to shatter the assumed, especially in conservative societies, image of the woman - the mother, the wife, the housekeeper. This is the similarity I find in each novel - the endeavor to redeem past presumption for the sake of the womanhood. Elena Ferrante possesses one of the most elegant and precise literary styles I have encountered in contemporary literature.
...more
5

Jan 07, 2018

I loved this short novel from the ever incredible Elena Ferrante. The twisted story of the protagonist who steals a doll on a beach is both captivating and heartbreaking. In typical Ferrante fashion, the narration wanders between the primary narrative of the protagonist's seaside vacation and her memories of her now-moved away daughters. It is a poignant portrait of motherhood and dealing with getting old. A must-read for fans of the Naples tetralogy - for me perhaps her strongest standalone I loved this short novel from the ever incredible Elena Ferrante. The twisted story of the protagonist who steals a doll on a beach is both captivating and heartbreaking. In typical Ferrante fashion, the narration wanders between the primary narrative of the protagonist's seaside vacation and her memories of her now-moved away daughters. It is a poignant portrait of motherhood and dealing with getting old. A must-read for fans of the Naples tetralogy - for me perhaps her strongest standalone novella. ...more
1

Apr 15, 2015

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante was out bookclub end of season read.

In this Novella The narrator, a forty-seven-year-old divorcée summering alone on the Ionian coast, becomes obsessed with a beautiful young mother who seems ill at ease with her husbands rowdy, slightly menacing Neapolitan clan. When this womans daughter loses her doll, the older woman commits a small crime that she cant explain even to herself.

I have to admit I totally struggled with the characters and the plot of this The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante was out bookclub end of season read.

In this Novella The narrator, a forty-seven-year-old divorcée summering alone on the Ionian coast, becomes obsessed with a beautiful young mother who seems ill at ease with her husband’s rowdy, slightly menacing Neapolitan clan. When this woman’s daughter loses her doll, the older woman commits a small crime that she can’t explain even to herself.

I have to admit I totally struggled with the characters and the plot of this novel. I could not identify with Leda or any of her ideas on motherhood. I found the novel bizarre and while the writing in places was strong the plot and the characters were just too bizarre for my liking.

It didn't generate the discussion as a group we had hoped for.


The book has received great reviews online and once again I am in the minority in my dislike of this one. ...more
4

Apr 30, 2018

This novella starts off reminding me in terms of the setting onlyvery much of the longish story The Beach in Cesare Paveses The Selected Works, translated by R.W. Flint.

As in the Neapolitan novels, Ferrante again shows in harrowing detail the absolute misery of child rearing. The annoyances, the resentments, the hatreds, to and from both parent and child. Its like a trap for all involved, a prison. It seems the Italians dont go in much for psychoanalysis, at least not the characters in Ferrante This novella starts off reminding me— in terms of the setting only—very much of the longish story “The Beach” in Cesare Pavese‘s The Selected Works, translated by R.W. Flint.

As in the Neapolitan novels, Ferrante again shows in harrowing detail the absolute misery of child rearing. The annoyances, the resentments, the hatreds, to and from both parent and child. It’s like a trap for all involved, a prison. It seems the Italians don’t go in much for psychoanalysis, at least not the characters in Ferrante’s books. But Ferrante knows her characters’ minds, and the truly bizarre scenes they produce. The narrator says:For a while I made no distinctions between public areas and private ones, I didn’t care if people heard me and judged me, I felt a strong desire to act out my rage as if in the theater. (p.77)

She is a middle aged woman, a college teacher of English Literature, who begins her story by talking about how liberating it has been for her personally to send her two teenage daughters off to live in Canada with their father, from whom she is bitterly divorced. With regard to another, younger mother whose little girl is throwing a fit at the moment, she says:

She had tried to see herself in the mirror as she had been before bringing that organism into the world, before condemning herself forever to adding it on to hers. Soon she’ll start yelling, I thought, soon she’ll hit her, trying to break that bond. Instead, the bond will become more twisted, will strengthen in remorse, in the humiliation of having shown herself in public to be an unaffectionate mother, not the mother of church or the Sunday supplements. (p.67)

There’s more. ...more
4

Oct 12, 2019

This is signature Elena Ferrante, there is no mistaking her writing. She captures the torment of motherhood beautifully. The internal conflict of remaining an individual woman versus the constraints of motherhood. The regrets and remorse that constantly weigh a woman down, that juxtaposition really defines her books. This novel is weird in a good way. The conflicted nature of the main character suffering what I believe to be classic empty nest syndrome tinged with terrible regrets, she This is signature Elena Ferrante, there is no mistaking her writing. She captures the torment of motherhood beautifully. The internal conflict of remaining an individual woman versus the constraints of motherhood. The regrets and remorse that constantly weigh a woman down, that juxtaposition really defines her books. This novel is weird in a good way. The conflicted nature of the main character suffering what I believe to be classic empty nest syndrome tinged with terrible regrets, she encounters a family she becomes slightly obsessed with while holidaying alone, this obsession makes her act in some strange and objectionable ways. It’s weird and wonderful in true Ferrante style. A truly intriguing read. ...more
3

Nov 12, 2016

As all of Ferrante's novels do, The Lost Daughter looks intimately at the complicated nature of motherhood and femininity. Leda, a 47-year old divorcee, is on vacation after her two daughters, now adults, move to live with their father in Canada. She spends her summer by the beach where she meets Nina, a young mother, and her daughter, Lenuccia, who is obsessed with her doll that eventually goes missing. Leda's interactions with this Neapolitan family gets her tied up in something bigger than As all of Ferrante's novels do, The Lost Daughter looks intimately at the complicated nature of motherhood and femininity. Leda, a 47-year old divorcee, is on vacation after her two daughters, now adults, move to live with their father in Canada. She spends her summer by the beach where she meets Nina, a young mother, and her daughter, Lenuccia, who is obsessed with her doll that eventually goes missing. Leda's interactions with this Neapolitan family gets her tied up in something bigger than herself and also forces her to confront her role as mother and the choices she's made in the past. It's a tightly written novel, expertly crafted but lacks the insight and power that Ferrante's other novels have. Overall, an interesting read but not one that will blow you away. ...more
4

Feb 24, 2015

Troubling Love. The Days of Abandonment. The Lost Daughter. Throw these titles up in the air and whichever lands on whichever book, it would fit. (Not the covers, though: each is uniquely apt.) Ferrante's first-person female narrators could almost be the same woman at different stages of life, except for the three being too close in age and possessing different voices. They are creative women with similar Neapolitan mothers, though with different family ties: single, childless Delia, a Troubling Love. The Days of Abandonment. The Lost Daughter. Throw these titles up in the air and whichever lands on whichever book, it would fit. (Not the covers, though: each is uniquely apt.) Ferrante's first-person female narrators could almost be the same woman at different stages of life, except for the three being too close in age and possessing different voices. They are creative women with similar Neapolitan mothers, though with different family ties: single, childless Delia, a cartoonist whose job is barely spoken of, comes from an abusive home; writer Olga, deserted by her husband, has two young children; and here it's a slightly older Leda, a divorced English literature professor with two adult daughters.

Maybe I'm getting used to Ferrante, or more likely it's Leda's dispassionate tone, because I didn't find this one as unsettling as the previous two, though its themes (especially the one at its core) are arguably even more provocative. I admired the novel's circularity and its repetition of lost daughters, including a reference to a story called Olivia if I'm correct in believing it's the Italian folktale that Italo Calvino collected under the title of Olive. ...more
4

Apr 09, 2015

Ewww! This is certainly not a 4 star for enjoyment, but in writing ability and emotive core character layered, nearly a 5. Elena Ferrante is absolutely able to conceptualize, feel, display and express dichotomy of want/repulse, love/hate, scattered self-identity and in other general minutia, the Italian culture's brand of personality disordered woman. This one is vilely unlikable. She was to me. She self-describes as "the unnatural Mother".

It's a state of hurt from both generational directions Ewww! This is certainly not a 4 star for enjoyment, but in writing ability and emotive core character layered, nearly a 5. Elena Ferrante is absolutely able to conceptualize, feel, display and express dichotomy of want/repulse, love/hate, scattered self-identity and in other general minutia, the Italian culture's brand of personality disordered woman. This one is vilely unlikable. She was to me. She self-describes as "the unnatural Mother".

It's a state of hurt from both generational directions here in full detail of aftermath. Harsh, loud and blunt. Honestly I would only rec this book if you have high interest in extremely unhappy women within the classic dichotomies of psychological self-identity dislike coupled with perpetual dissatisfaction in life and particularly their role fulfillment. Not just in Motherhood, either.

As excellent a writer as Elena Ferrante is, and she IS genius, she tends to write the same type of woman over and over again. Basically that woman (and they are various ages)- spiteful, vengeful and trouble seeking, apt to cheat and intimidate arising from their own dissatisfaction of both mood and insecurities in work and role. Southern Italian culture and the extended familial patterns of male patriarchy with matriarchal role ideals for intense and long patterned nurturing; those are often the stage for her unhappy women. It's what she knows and she can slice the layers to single cell thinness.

This one was a short novella length that exposed this woman's soul, what she believes about herself and her general self-defeating, quite automatic to me, response. It's one that assuredly earns her more separation and "freedom". But the "freedom" tastes like water from her own solitary poisoned well.

...more
4

Jul 08, 2015

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 didnt 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 “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.
...more
5

Oct 07, 2015

Heres what we know about Elena Ferrantes narrator, Leda: shes the middle-aged mother of two grown daughters. Her daughters are living overseas with their father. She is a renowned English Literature scholar. And she is, by her own words, an unnatural mother.

In this searing book, Elena Ferrante courageously confronts one of our social taboos: what happens if, despite all our expectations, we feel diminished by motherhood? What if we choose to abandon our roles? What does that say about us?

Leda Here’s what we know about Elena Ferrante’s narrator, Leda: she’s the middle-aged mother of two grown daughters. Her daughters are living overseas with their father. She is a renowned English Literature scholar. And she is, by her own words, an unnatural mother.

In this searing book, Elena Ferrante courageously confronts one of our social taboos: what happens if, despite all our expectations, we feel diminished by motherhood? What if we choose to abandon our roles? What does that say about us?

Leda reflects, “When my daughters had moved to Toronto, where their father had lived and worked for years, I was embarrassed and amazed to discover that I wasn’t upset; rather, I felt light, as if only then I had definitively brought them in the world.”

During her vacation off the Ionian coast, Leda happens across a boisterous and possibly menacing large family, and fixates on the young dissatisfied mother Nina and her cranky young daughter (..there was something off about the little girl; I don’t know what.”) The first-person narration makes us feel almost like complicit voyeurs as Leda studies the family, ultimately committing a simple act that will be a catalyst for self-examination.

There is a raw and uncompromising honesty as Leda reveals this about her abandonment of her girls, “I was like someone who is taking possession of her own life, and feels a host of things at the same time, among them an unbearable absence.” Yet this cannot be read as a feminist parable, because she quickly follows with this, when asled why she went back, “Because I realized that I wasn’t capable of creating anything of my own that could truly equal them.”

As with Days of Abandonment, another masterful work by Ms. Ferrante, there is ferociously good writing here, laced with a great sense of immediacy and a shockingly honest sense of authenticity. It’s hard to turn away as the narrative propels us to its organic ending.
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2

Jan 22, 2016

The best feature of this book was its size. It was small. That much I can say about it. Beyond this, I found the characters utterly annoying, the plot borderline nauseating, and the writing... well, tolerable. I strongly considered creating a "heroine I'd gladly slap" shelf, but it's not worth it. I truly hope that I never become such a person, and even more, that I never meet such a person. Sadly, I'll remain in the dark when it comes to the reason everybody is so delighted with this fictional The best feature of this book was its size. It was small. That much I can say about it. Beyond this, I found the characters utterly annoying, the plot borderline nauseating, and the writing... well, tolerable. I strongly considered creating a "heroine I'd gladly slap" shelf, but it's not worth it. I truly hope that I never become such a person, and even more, that I never meet such a person. Sadly, I'll remain in the dark when it comes to the reason everybody is so delighted with this fictional miss Ferrante. ...more
3

May 10, 2016

"Sometimes you have to escape in order not to die."

I am a Ferrante fan. I blistered through her Neapolitan Tetralogy, liking some over others, but overall it was pretty amazing as a whole. "Days of Abandonment" was strong, but a work on its own and perhaps my favorite of the ones I've read from her. "The Lost Daughter" is the antithesis of "Days of Abandonment".

If a parent leaves, society deems it normal if it's the father, but if a mother leaves, that same society questions why? How could she? "Sometimes you have to escape in order not to die."

I am a Ferrante fan. I blistered through her Neapolitan Tetralogy, liking some over others, but overall it was pretty amazing as a whole. "Days of Abandonment" was strong, but a work on its own and perhaps my favorite of the ones I've read from her. "The Lost Daughter" is the antithesis of "Days of Abandonment".

If a parent leaves, society deems it normal if it's the father, but if a mother leaves, that same society questions why? How could she? How could she leave her kids? How dare she!

Whether it's for three days or three years, a parent leaving unannounced leaves a hole inside. This hole gets larger through time and can only be filled with closure. This hole is closed when that person that is so affected screams and prods their inner being until that pain is gone.

In short, some, if not most, people should not be parents. If you haven't come to terms with who you are or where you want to be, do not have children. Be responsible enough to be selfish with yourself. It'll save someone or the 'lack' of someone heartache in the future.

"The Lost Daughter" shows how people can become content, complacent and then resentful in a world that they've made themselves. It's not about being happy, it's about knowing how not to die. ...more
4

Mar 17, 2017

Elena Ferrante's 3rd novel and the novel she has cited as her most daring. It's slim 130 pages prepared the ground for the epic and magnificent 1700 page My Beautiful Friend.

The set-up is simple: a divorced middle-aged woman with two grown up children is on holiday and becomes intrigued by a young girl and her mid-20s mother she sees on the beach. She initially sees their relationship as an ideal she failed to achieve, before, as she gets to know them better, realising that their issues mirror Elena Ferrante's 3rd novel and the novel she has cited as her most daring. It's slim 130 pages prepared the ground for the epic and magnificent 1700 page My Beautiful Friend.

The set-up is simple: a divorced middle-aged woman with two grown up children is on holiday and becomes intrigued by a young girl and her mid-20s mother she sees on the beach. She initially sees their relationship as an ideal she failed to achieve, before, as she gets to know them better, realising that their issues mirror her own troubled past. For reasons she herself doesn't understand she steals the young girl's precious doll, which the girl treats as her own child.

But the prose and the exploration of the themes, particularly what would drive a mother to abandon her own children, have significant depth.

And as her friendship develops with the young mother she sees her family, with echoes of her own Camorran kin, the very cast that will form the background to Lenu and Lila's friendship in the Neopolitan quarter:

Those people annoyed me. I had been born in a not dissimilar environment, my uncles, my cousins, my father were like that, of a domineering cordiality. They were ceremonious, usually very sociable, very question sounded on their lips like an order barely disguised by a flaw good humour, and if necessary they could be vulgarly insulting and violent.

Recommended - particularly as a taster of Ferrante before immersing in My Beautiful Friend.

Ferrante's own view from La frantumaglia:

Lenu says: "The most difficult things to tell are those which we ourselves cannot understand. "It's the motto - can I call it that - which is at the heart of all my books.

In the book that made me feel most guilty, The Lost Daughter, I pushed the protagonist much farther than I thought I myself, writing, could bear.

The Lost Daughter left me with a feeling the way you do when you swim until you're exhausted and then realise you're too far from the shore.

I still think that the most daring, the most risk-taking book is The Lost Daughter. If I hadn't gone through with that, with great anxiety, I wouldn't have written My Brilliant Friend.

It's no coincidence that when I came to the Neopolitan Quartet I started off again with two dolls and an intense female friendship captured at its beginning.

Merged review:

Elena Ferrante's 3rd novel and the novel she has cited as her most daring. It's slim 130 pages prepared the ground for the epic and magnificent 1700 page My Beautiful Friend.

The set-up is simple: a divorced middle-aged woman with two grown up children is on holiday and becomes intrigued by a young girl and her mid-20s mother she sees on the beach. She initially sees their relationship as an ideal she failed to achieve, before, as she gets to know them better, realising that their issues mirror her own troubled past. For reasons she herself doesn't understand she steals the young girl's precious doll, which the girl treats as her own child.

But the prose and the exploration of the themes, particularly what would drive a mother to abandon her own children, have significant depth.

And as her friendship develops with the young mother she sees her family, with echoes of her own Camorran kin, the very cast that will form the background to Lenu and Lila's friendship in the Neopolitan quarter:

Those people annoyed me. I had been born in a not dissimilar environment, my uncles, my cousins, my father were like that, of a domineering cordiality. They were ceremonious, usually very sociable, very question sounded on their lips like an order barely disguised by a flaw good humour, and if necessary they could be vulgarly insulting and violent.

Recommended - particularly as a taster of Ferrante before immersing in My Beautiful Friend.

Ferrante's own view from La frantumaglia:

Lenu says: "The most difficult things to tell are those which we ourselves cannot understand. "It's the motto - can I call it that - which is at the heart of all my books.

In the book that made me feel most guilty, The Lost Daughter, I pushed the protagonist much farther than I thought I myself, writing, could bear.

The Lost Daughter left me with a feeling the way you do when you swim until you're exhausted and then realise you're too far from the shore.

I still think that the most daring, the most risk-taking book is The Lost Daughter. If I hadn't gone through with that, with great anxiety, I wouldn't have written My Brilliant Friend.

It's no coincidence that when I came to the Neopolitan Quartet I started off again with two dolls and an intense female friendship captured at its beginning.

Merged review:

Elena Ferrante's 3rd novel and the novel she has cited as her most daring. It's slim 130 pages prepared the ground for the epic and magnificent 1700 page My Beautiful Friend.

The set-up is simple: a divorced middle-aged woman with two grown up children is on holiday and becomes intrigued by a young girl and her mid-20s mother she sees on the beach. She initially sees their relationship as an ideal she failed to achieve, before, as she gets to know them better, realising that their issues mirror her own troubled past. For reasons she herself doesn't understand she steals the young girl's precious doll, which the girl treats as her own child.

But the prose and the exploration of the themes, particularly what would drive a mother to abandon her own children, have significant depth.

And as her friendship develops with the young mother she sees her family, with echoes of her own Camorran kin, the very cast that will form the background to Lenu and Lila's friendship in the Neopolitan quarter:

Those people annoyed me. I had been born in a not dissimilar environment, my uncles, my cousins, my father were like that, of a domineering cordiality. They were ceremonious, usually very sociable, every question sounded on their lips like an order barely disguised by a false good humour, and if necessary they could be vulgarly insulting and violent.

Recommended - particularly as a taster of Ferrante before immersing in My Beautiful Friend.

Ferrante's own view from La frantumaglia:

Lenu says: "The most difficult things to tell are those which we ourselves cannot understand. "It's the motto - can I call it that - which is at the heart of all my books.

In the book that made me feel most guilty, The Lost Daughter, I pushed the protagonist much farther than I thought I myself, writing, could bear.

The Lost Daughter left me with a feeling the way you do when you swim until you're exhausted and then realise you're too far from the shore.

I still think that the most daring, the most risk-taking book is The Lost Daughter. If I hadn't gone through with that, with great anxiety, I wouldn't have written My Brilliant Friend.

It's no coincidence that when I came to the Neopolitan Quartet I started off again with two dolls and an intense female friendship captured at its beginning. ...more
4

Nov 16, 2015

The Lost Daughter is especially interesting to experience after reading Ferrante's Neapolitan novels. She explores struggle and ambivalence in motherhood with the same cutting voice. It's easy and exciting to see the similarities in choice and process between her characters here and in the Neapolitan novels.

I found it a condensed version of the same power she exhibited in her series, but with focus on one theme over a short period of time. I enjoyed the few moments of surprise when you realize The Lost Daughter is especially interesting to experience after reading Ferrante's Neapolitan novels. She explores struggle and ambivalence in motherhood with the same cutting voice. It's easy and exciting to see the similarities in choice and process between her characters here and in the Neapolitan novels.

I found it a condensed version of the same power she exhibited in her series, but with focus on one theme over a short period of time. I enjoyed the few moments of surprise when you realize the protagonist isn't always telling you everything, but I wouldn't describe her as an unreliable narrator. As with our own parents, it's easy to forget they had lives without us before our birth. Ferrante's character has the very real feeling of existence before we as readers experienced her voice. Sometimes it's uncomfortable to realize there is a lot you don't know about your parent's life before you, and when you learn these things it puts them in a different light, if only for a moment. When the protagonist exposes parts of her life that come as a surprise, the experience of reading about her morphs into something more complicated and beautiful. This is why it should be considered successful and worthwhile outside of her Neapolitan series.

Ferrante has quickly become one of my favorite authors, I can't recommend her highly enough. ...more
5

Nov 26, 2012

distrubing in its honesty about women caught between children and career or fullfillment or just wanting to do and be their own person apart from mama or wife or cleaner or whathaveyou. clever too how author does this in title, she was a damaged daughter who wanted nothing more than to escape from her mother and grandmother in hillbilly naples, only to find she wanted nothing more than to escape from her phd husband and two daughters and pursue HER phd (which she did, and never looked back, for distrubing in its honesty about women caught between children and career or fullfillment or just wanting to do and be their own person apart from mama or wife or cleaner or whathaveyou. clever too how author does this in title, she was a damaged daughter who wanted nothing more than to escape from her mother and grandmother in hillbilly naples, only to find she wanted nothing more than to escape from her phd husband and two daughters and pursue HER phd (which she did, and never looked back, for 3 years no contact whatsoever with her children or hubby, hah).
but now she is older, wiser, on vacation by herself, and meets other daughters. chilling pyschologically, heartbreaking, frustrating, sexy, sad story. ferrante is the real thing. see her other novel of women from naples here My Brilliant Friend ...more
3

Jul 08, 2017

Even in small novels, little more than a short story actually, Ferrante really excels. It strikes me that her main characters always are very 'complexed': always women who struggle with their self esteem, and so also with what others and society in general expects of them, and who particularly are seized by their relationship to their mothers or to their children. In this story Leda not really is a sympathetic character, she bluntly calls herself a bad woman and she has done things that by Even in small novels, little more than a short story actually, Ferrante really excels. It strikes me that her main characters always are very 'complexed': always women who struggle with their self esteem, and so also with what others and society in general expects of them, and who particularly are seized by their relationship to their mothers or to their children. In this story Leda not really is a sympathetic character, she bluntly calls herself a bad woman and she has done things that by mainstream standards are really 'wrong'. But Ferrante never condemns her main characters, on the contrary, she demands respect for them, for their complexity and smallness, and their negative sides. A grand little story this is! ...more
4

Dec 22, 2008

A brutally frank novel of maternal ambivalence. A 40-something divorced mother of two grown daughters looks back and examines her feelings on motherhood. Although disturbing at times it was very intriguing. She is shockingly honest which is refreshing. I think many mothers have at some point felt at least a little of what she has written but would be afraid to admit for fear of how they would be viewed by others.
3

Apr 28, 2016

I have a pile of review from the last two months to do, but it's about time to catch up. Review soon!
3

Dec 29, 2014

The reclusive Elena Ferrante has come into much praise of late in the U.S. for her novels of female friendship set against the gritty backdrop of crime-ridden Naples. This novel is the outlier--it takes place at the beach and the woman at its center, an Italian professor of English named Leda, is solitary, even, by choice it would seem, friendless. She stumbles into a glancing association with the lost daughter of the title and her rough, fractious Neapolitan family. But, for all her education The reclusive Elena Ferrante has come into much praise of late in the U.S. for her novels of female friendship set against the gritty backdrop of crime-ridden Naples. This novel is the outlier--it takes place at the beach and the woman at its center, an Italian professor of English named Leda, is solitary, even, by choice it would seem, friendless. She stumbles into a glancing association with the lost daughter of the title and her rough, fractious Neapolitan family. But, for all her education and her literary sensibility it is Leda who turns out to be cruel for no apparent reason. The casual, senseless meanness that she inflicts on the briefly lost Neapolitan daughter is only a sample of the more intentional pain that she has meted out to her own family. In the end, it is Leda's own daughters who are lost, in the sense of being abandoned. They survive, even thrive in her absence. Perhaps the real lost daughter of the novel is Leda herself, an intellectual devoted to literature, who uses it not to understand the world and its people but to insulate herself from them. ...more
4

Mar 28, 2009

I was riveted by the intensity of the narrator's experience as the mother of two grown daughters, the complicated feelings of love and self-reproach that eat away at her spirit long after she's no longer responsible for the care of the girls. All of this is tied up with a suspenseful plot, too--I read this book in one sitting.
4

Mar 17, 2020

I really enjoyed this one - it reminded me in many way of The Days of Abandonment, and actually makes me want to revisit that one.

The story of this novella is simple - a woman, upon having her daughters move to Canada to be with their father, feels unexpectedly freed and goes on a beach holiday. There she sees a woman and her young daughter, who is overly attached to an ugly doll. Certain events happen, and the narrator begins to re-examine her own life as a mother and her relationship to her I really enjoyed this one - it reminded me in many way of The Days of Abandonment, and actually makes me want to revisit that one.

The story of this novella is simple - a woman, upon having her daughters move to Canada to be with their father, feels unexpectedly freed and goes on a beach holiday. There she sees a woman and her young daughter, who is overly attached to an ugly doll. Certain events happen, and the narrator begins to re-examine her own life as a mother and her relationship to her two daughters, through the lens of the mother and daughter from the beach.

If you like literary fiction that deals a lot with internalised rage, a woman's place in society (both as a mother and a person in their own right), and thoughts that are more often than not kept hidden for fear of judgement, then this is definitely one for you. Elena Ferrante writes the inner turmoils of her older female characters with such unflinching honesty, and it's truly a breath of fresh air to read. ...more
5

Nov 21, 2009

"The Lost Daughter" is one of those amazing books where the stream-of-consciousness works. In the present, the book is about a middle aged woman, Leda, who takes a beach-side vacation for the summer. Beneath the surface, it's about how her interactions with a Neapolitan family reminds her of her upbringing and, more poignantly, her relationships with her estranged daughters.

One thing I love about this book is that, even though I was in Leda's head, she managed to surprise me. She was filled with "The Lost Daughter" is one of those amazing books where the stream-of-consciousness works. In the present, the book is about a middle aged woman, Leda, who takes a beach-side vacation for the summer. Beneath the surface, it's about how her interactions with a Neapolitan family reminds her of her upbringing and, more poignantly, her relationships with her estranged daughters.

One thing I love about this book is that, even though I was in Leda's head, she managed to surprise me. She was filled with such longing for her daughters, who now lived in Canada with their father, that it didn't cross my mind that *she* had first abandoned *them.* Similarly, Nina, the young mother of the very young Elena, first seemed like solely the victim of her husband's family, but then we learn that she is having an affair.

The relationship between Nina and Leda might be the central one of the story. First, they revere each other- the unfortunate young mother, the sophisticated middle-aged professor- then those illusions are shattered. Nina tries to justify her affair by going to Leda, but Leda knows that leaving her children was just selfishness. Then Nina goes to Leda to beg her apartment for a night with her lover, only to be met with the news that Leda had stolen Elena's doll, an act that completely unraveled her family. Suddenly, she goes from being a selfish child herself to a lioness of a mother.

There was just so much great character development here, and Ferrante completely captured the complexity of familial relations. (As an American- especially an Italian American- it was also great to learn about distinct, cultural groups within Italy!) My one big complaint would be that I wish she'd changed up some of her male names a bit. Too many of the main characters started with G- Leda's suitor, Giovanni, Nina's lover, Gino, Leda's ex-husband, Gianni. I'm not ashamed to admit I got them confused from time to time. :P ...more
2

Dec 21, 2018

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 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?

rest is here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpre...
...more

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