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The Lost Daughter Paperback – Mar 1 2008

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (March 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372426
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 82 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #16,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The arresting third novel from pseudonymous Italian novelist Ferrante (Troubling Love) pursues a divorced, 47-year-old academic's deeply conflicted feelings about motherhood to their frightening core. While on vacation by herself on the Ionian coast, Leda feels contentedly disburdened of her two 20-something daughters, who have moved to their father's city of Toronto. She's soon engrossed in watching the daily drama of Nina, a young mother, with her young daughter, Elena (along with Elena's doll, Nani), at the seashore. Surrounded by proprietary Neapolitan relatives and absorbed in her daughter's care, Nina at first strikes Leda as the perfect mother, reminding herself of when she was a new and hopeful parent. Leda's eventual acquaintance with Nina yields a disturbing confession and sets in motion a series of events that threatens to wreck, or save, the integrity of Nina's family. Ferrante's prose is stunningly candid, direct and unforgettable. From simple elements, she builds a powerful tale of hope and regret. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. She is the bestselling author of The Days of Abandonment, which the New York Times described as “stunning,” Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. Her latest novel and the first in a trilogy, My Brilliant Friend, will be available from Europa Editions on September 25, 2012.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating writer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9b662dbc) out of 5 stars 71 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b95beb8) out of 5 stars 4.5/5 stars - the dark side of motherhood Aug. 21 2011
By My 2 Cents - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Leda is a 47 year-old divorced woman, and mother to daughters, Bianca and Marta, now 22 and 24. The girls have recently moved from Italy to Toronto, Canada to live with their father. Leda is well educated and teaches at the university in Florence, Italy. Leda was not upset when her daughters moved away, in fact it was quite the opposite:

"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 definitively 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 the 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."

It's summer and since she is feeling happy about her new freedom, Leda decides to rent a beach house for six weeks, on the Ionian coast, near Naples. She packs her books and lesson plans for the coming school year and is planning to relax by lounging on the beach by day.

Early on she becomes fascinated by the interactions of an attractive young mother named Nina, and her young daughter, Elena. She also intently watches little Elena's interactions with her doll, which the girl calls by several different names. Several other family members visit the family on the beach as well. One day Leda notices the child by the waters edge, so she returns her to her mother who was lying on the beach blanket and hadn't noticed the child had wandered to the water. Another day when the family leaves the beach for the day, Leda notices that Elena's beloved doll was left buried in the sand. This incident upsets Leda, and suddenly this event, along with the interactions of mother and child, opens a floodgate of memories for Leda of her own days as a young mother. Some of the incidents which she recalls of things she did, and ways she reacted to her own daughters --were cringe-worthy.

This brief novella, just 124 pages, is sure to evoke emotions among readers, especially mothers. Narrated in the first person, this deep journey into a mother's psyche, gives the reader plenty to think about. Marriage, motherhood, personal freedom, sacrifice and career fulfillment are some of the conflicting issues that surface in this work.

Initially, I thought I might have a problem with the flow of the story due to the translation, but that was not the case. Once I got into the rhythm and into what was going on in Leda's head, I was hooked. I liked this one a lot, and would definitely recommend it.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ccd2ef4) out of 5 stars Dark Side of Maternal Instinct Feb. 21 2013
By Ann L. Bellissimo - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bright lights cause dark shadows and this book takes on the light of motherhood and its corresponding darker aspects. It is not a crime thriller where the children--grown and young--are in danger, It is a look into the psychology of a woman who never made peace with the sacrifice required by motherhood, but who needed the experience and her children for sanity. When her daughters left home---this is a very female, womanly book but not girlie--old issues started to crop up. The psychology rings true and the ending is surprising. Although this author has never been seen in public and there are rumors of various famous authors who may be writing under an alias, I will be surprised if a man has written this book. It is an easy read and I plan to read everything by this author.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b68a144) out of 5 stars Brilliant in its honesty and forthright prose style March 1 2013
By tintintoo - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One almost never finds women authors who have the wherewithal to speak honestly about motherhood, the difficult choices women (esp. women intellectuals) face in society, and other issues surrounding female identity in this supposedly "post-feminist" age. I can think of no contemporary American woman writer who is as unsparingly honest and courageous in their writing as Ferrante is in hers.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bfc4594) out of 5 stars excellent fiction July 2 2009
By Mansi Poddar, psychotherapist - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a short novel. The prose is tight, clean and lacks any frivolous detail that does not add to the story. The writing reflects the characters voices and internal dialogue effectively. A young woman delves into her past as a mother and daughter, brining up painful, guilt-ridden memories. She comes across a mother daughter duo, at the beach where she is vacationing, who remind her of herself and what she feels is the 'ideal.' an interesting novel that explores being a mother, daughter and societal expectations of both. the characters conflict is clearly reflected and this book is most human. it has dimension and the characters incite emotion in the reader. you will be left pondering the themes long after you have finished reading.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c052828) out of 5 stars Short. Pitch-perfect. Disturbing. May 15 2011
By Jesse Kornbluth - Published on
Format: Paperback
It's a simple story, told by the main character. Leda is 47, divorced, an academic, mother of daughters who are now in their 20s and live in Canada with their father. She rents an apartment for a month in an Italian beach resort. She has no lover, she's completely alone. And so she falls into the habit of going to the same stretch of beach every day.

You know how it is when you're a stranger in a strange town? You make up stories about the people you see. Leda does this with a woman and her child who also spend their days at the beach. They're lined up like planets --- Leda, the "bad" mother, then the mother who "seemed to have no desire for anything but her child," and then the little girl, so secure in her mother's love that she gives all her attention to an old doll.

One day, the little girl gets lost. Leda --- who, as we know, long ago, lost her connection to her own kids --- finds her. And now the plot starts to circle itself, and tighten, forcing Leda to remember more of her own story. (To buy the book from Amazon, click here.)

On page two, Leda says that "the hardest things to talk about are the ones we ourselves can't understand." For her, that's abandoning her daughters, all those years ago. Her first explanation, to the mother on the beach: "Sometimes you have to escape in order not to die."

Believe that at your peril. There's much more. But what's compelling is how little it takes to lose your bearings --- a small burst of attention, modest encouragement, a bout of illicit sex. The next thing you know, you're a stranger to yourself, you're a foreigner in your own body. The scene when Leda leaves her kids --- it's not wrenching like "Kramer vs. Kramer," it's one matter-of-fact paragraph. In its way, that's more wrenching.

Which is not to say that this is a story by a woman who can do nothing but watch and think. Something happens midway through. It's simple, trivial, blatantly symbolic --- it's so obvious you grimace. Why is that? Because you haven't abandoned a child. And you never would.

So it is the astonishing triumph of this simple, short (125 page) novel that, slowly, you come to identify with a woman who has done the unthinkable. And, in the aftermath, you feel a bit unhinged.

"I had left my husband and my daughters at a moment when I was sure I had the right, was in the right," Leda says near the end of the novel. And as if you've been in the sun at the beach all day and have just returned to the shade and a breeze and a cool drink, you blink --- because you're just not sure if that would be your final answer. And, if it would be, what that says about you.

What a beautiful, disturbing, thought-provoking book.