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The Lost Daughter Paperback – Apr 1 2008


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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 is one of Italy's most important and acclaimed contemporary writers, author of The Days of Abandonment and Troubling Love. Her true identity is unknown.

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Amazon.com: 23 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.5/5 stars - the dark side of motherhood Aug. 21 2011
By My2Cents - Published on Amazon.com
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.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Dark Side of Maternal Instinct Feb. 21 2013
By Ann L. Bellissimo - Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant in its honesty and forthright prose style March 1 2013
By tintintoo - Published on Amazon.com
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.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
excellent fiction July 2 2009
By Mansi Poddar, psychotherapist - Published on Amazon.com
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Worms in dolls, nasty Neapolitan tourists, and Lou Gerhig? Nov. 4 2012
By propertius - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Yes Lou Gehrig, as in "Doesn't Ms. Ferrante ever strike out?). Superflous as it is to say, The Lost Daughter is another example of the author's ability to draw the reader into the soul and mind of the protagonist in a compact, concise and complex novel. She is able to give seemingly trivial events a profound meaning. At the crux of this story is the role of motherhood and feminine roles and aspirations in the modern world and all this is triggered by a little girl's lost doll.

The atmosphere that develops around Leda as she develops what turns out to be a totally misunderstood relationship with the little girl's mother makes you wish the book was longer. Yet Elena Ferrante is no tease. There are no easy answers in her books just many questions which the reader must answer for himself (alright, alright, or herself).


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