A powerful new novel set in a divided Naples by Elena Ferrante, the beloved best-selling author of My Brilliant Friend.
Giovanna’s pretty face has changed: it’s turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Into which mirror must she look to find herself and save herself?
She is searching for a new face in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, which professes to be a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, the city seems to offer no answer and no escape.
“Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents, newly married, had bought in Rione Alto, at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri. Everything—the spaces of Naples, the blue light of a very cold February, those words—remained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing, nothing of my own, nothing that has really begun or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knot, and nobody, not even the one who at this moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption.”
International praise for The Lying Life of Adults
“As you read, a vast panorama of characters slowly unfolds . . . a diverse and dynamic tableau of humanity. Once again, Elena Ferrante has not created a mere story but an entire world.”—Il libraio (Italy)
“[The Lying Life of Adults] has the expansiveness of great literature—from Balzac to Stendhal to the always beloved Proust [. . .] It is a necessary book, which shows women that today they have the capacity to be ‘truthful, fierce, compassionate,’ where Lila and Lenù—narrowly confined within the 20th century—could not, or could only to an extent.”—Il Manifesto
“[The Lying Life of Adults] is highly addictive.”—Elle (Italy)
“Ferrante shows again how she is unbeatable.”—The Times (UK)
“I picked up [The Lying Life of Adults] saying to myself that I would only read a few pages and then stop. Instead, I finished it all in one go, switching off my phone and withdrawing from the world. It is pure reading pleasure, brimming with Ferrante’s narrative intelligence, sincere characters, and signature themes.”—Nadia Terranova on Linkiesta
“Reading a novel by Elena Ferrante is like coming home, like returning to those happy childhood moments—perhaps imaginary—when we asked mom or dad to tell us the same bedtime story over and over again. From the very first sentences, The Lying Life of Adults enfolds and absorbs readers in the same way.”—Vanity Fair (Italy)
“In a story where truths are revealed and constantly overturned and characters inspire in equal measure love and hatred, Ferrante’s voice is at once reassuring, unsettling, mesmerizing.”—La Stampa
“Like in the ‘Neapolitan quartet,’ Ferrante keeps us glued to the page, in awe of her capacity to create characters that have a life-like, almost physical quality—so much so that they keep resurfacing in our mind with stunning vitality even after the book is over.”—Rai Cultura
“A great novel, extremely dense and complex, to be savored page by page. [Ferrante] brings us to vertigo-inducing heights before returning us, greatly enriched, to our daily lives.”—Critica Letteraria
“Elena Ferrante is uniquely able to combine complexity and readability.” —Nicola Lagioia in La Stampa
“Elena Ferrante brings readers back to a world—who knows if it is autobiographical or entirely fictional—that book-after-book we have come to think of as hers. Naples is there from the start, and, most importantly, so too are the indissoluble, complex, painful bond between children and their parents.”—La Repubblica
“Ferrante has managed a seemingly impossible feat for those who spent many sleepless nights captivated by the intricate lives of Lila and Lenù: she makes us forget all about those two girls . . . From the first lines of the new novel, there’s only Giovanna.”—Libero
“[In The Lying Life of Adults] the relationship between Giovanna and her paternal aunt Vittoria is powerful and intense.”—ANSA (Italy)
“[Ferrante’s] prose, deployed with almost tender wisdom, is musical and linear, and plays with atmosphere and dialogue to shed light on her characters’ hearts, on their greatest hopes and burning disappointments.”—Il Messaggero (Italy)
“In her signature way, Ferrante captivates the reader body and soul with a complex, layered, at times brutal novel, where once again the experience of womanhood is at the center of the story.” —Players Magazine
Elena Ferrante is the author of The Days of Abandonment (Europa, 2005), which was made into a film directed by Roberto Faenza, Troubling Love (Europa, 2006), adapted by Mario Martone, and The Lost Daughter (Europa, 2008), soon to be a major motion picture directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal and starring Oscar Award-winner Olivia Colman. She is also the author of Incidental Inventions (Europa, 2019), illustrated by Andrea Ucini, Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey (Europa, 2016) and The Beach at Night (Europa, 2016), illustrated by Mara Cerri. The four volumes known as the “Neapolitan quartet” (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child) were published by Europa Editions in English between 2012 and 2015. My Brilliant Friend, the HBO series directed by Saverio Costanzo, premiered in 2018. Her most recent novel is The Lying Life of Adults (Europa, 2020).