Forty-five-year-old Delia returns to her childhood home of Naples, Italy, to discover the truth behind the drowning death of her mother, Amalia. Suspicious circumstances surround Amalia’s last days; the humble seamstress, who never flaunted her beauty for fear of her jealous husband’s wrath, was wearing nothing but an expensive designer brassiere at the time of her death. As Delia wanders the vibrant streets of Naples, she ponders three dubious men who figured prominently in her mother’s past; Amalia’s irascible brother, known for hurling insults at acquaintances and strangers alike; her husband, a mediocre painter with no qualms about slapping Amalia in public; and his lascivious agent, whose marriage never precluded him from propositioning other women. Ironically, it is her mother’s death that enables Delia to make better sense of her own life. “I realized . . . that in fact I had Amalia under my skin, like a hot liquid that had been injected into me at some unknown time.” Pseudonymous Italian novelist Ferrante (The Days of Abandonment
, 2005) delivers a brutally frank tale about the dangerous intersection of rage and desire.
by Allison Block