's second novel (after The Days of Abandonment
) opens with the drowning death of Amalia, an aging Italian seamstress and the mother of Delia, the mid-forties narrator. Delia returns from Rome to her hometown, Naples, to make the funeral arrangements. Mysterious details about the death emerge, from Amalia's odd phone calls to Delia just days before to the anonymous calls Delia receives and her encounters with an obscenity-yelling, dirty old man. Delia embarks on a quest to find out how and why her mother died, in the process visiting people and places from her past. With the quick-paced mystery guiding the story, Delia explores her relationship with her mother, unraveling memories and secrets repressed since childhood and coming to terms with an upbringing filled with jealousy and violence. As the title indicates, Ferrante's vivid and powerful descriptions can be somewhat troubling at times, leaving the reader with a memorable sense of unease. Recommended for larger public and academic fiction collections.
by Sarah Conrad Weisman