March 31, 2014
The Days of Abandonment
by Ferrante, Elena
Elena Ferrante is a very private, illusive writer--one of Italy's finest. One of her finest novels is The Days of Abandonment which was translated into English by Ann Goldstein. Some say that Elena Ferrante is a pen name for Domenico Starnone, a male novelist. No matter the gender of the writer--in this novel the translator fluidly transports the reader into a realm of a woman's mind....the mind of Olga. Olga tells about her deep emotional responses and experiences during the days following abandonment by her husband. Olga has two children and and a dog to care for in a small Italian village while she tries to find her footing following the initial shock. It is a visceral description of the initial several days with her discomfort at times unbearable, at times comical.
"The hardest day of the ordeal of my abandonment was about to begin, but I didn't know it yet." Hint: insecticide poisoning, child with burning fever, day spent in nightgown, August heat, lock on door not working properly.....think "The Metamorphosis" by Kafka! Don't let the impending anxiety overwhelm you --you, too, at times have felt the uncomfortable heat of these human emotions. Elena Ferrante gently guides us through the stages of the abyss, she (he?) explores how to consciously cope with an ordeal. The story has a solid, stable conclusion. Olga and her children survive. She has changed, having a more realistic world view of love and parenting, and much stronger having faced the abandonment.
Recommended by Sharon McKittrick, Lawrence Library