Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

I’ve heard so many good things about Elena Ferrante (and followed the ‘uproar’ when her true identity was revealed) so I knew I had to try at least one of her books. I don’t quite remember why I chose this, but it was in my TBR list.

On one level, The Lost Daughter is a very simple story. Leda, a middle-aged woman takes a holiday at a beach after her daughter’s leave the country. She sort of makes friends with a large family there and ends up stealing the little girl’s doll and agonises over whether to return it.

On another level, The Lost Daughter is supposed to be about what can be an ambivalent relationship between mother and daughter. I have to say ‘what can be’ because although the book tries to make it sound universal, you never know when it comes to these sorts of things. The small events in plot provide an opportunity for the protagonist to reflect upon her past as a mother.

I am really of two minds about this book. On one hand, I see and appreciate the way that Ferrante brings out a deeper message in the story. Considering that I’ve been having a hard time getting past the first chapter of ebooks recently (I think I gave up on three books before this and one after), the fact that I finished what can be considered ‘literary fiction’ says a lot.

On the other hand, the story requires a lot of navel-gazing and that made Leda pretty unbearable because she just seemed so self-centered. I don’t expect her to be a martyr, but there were times where I just rolled my eyes at her.

Overall, I think I like this book. It’s not normally the type of book I read, especially in my “I read for fun and maybe education” days, but I appreciate what this story tries to do and I would be interested in reading more of Ferrante’s books. I guess the question is: what next?


  1. I remember when the controversy came out about the reveal of the author's identity, but I admit it didn't mean much to me as I didn't know either name at the time. So many authors use pseudonyms as it is. I don't consider it that big a deal to use one. I do wish the reporter had respected the author's privacy though.

    I haven't read any of her work. Maybe someday.

    1. Yeah, I didn't get why it was a big deal either. I hope you get to read this one - perhaps you'll experience it differently from me...


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