The Boston Globe: "So refined, almost translucent, that it seems about to float away, in the end this piercing novel is not so easily dislodged from the memory."
Date: May 12 2008
So refined, almost translucent, that it seems about to float away, in the end this piercing novel is not so easily dislodged from the memory. "The hardest things to talk about are the ones we ourselves can't understand," says the narrator, Leda, who has wound up in the hospital after a smash-up that was largely but not solely automotive.
We flash back a few weeks. Elegant, middle-aged, long divorced, a literature professor on summer holiday, Leda is the portrait of solitary contentment. Her two daughters have gone to live with their father, leaving her free of responsibilities, free to lounge on the beach, free to observe with literary-critical detachment a large Neapolitan family of vacationers, in particular the interaction of an affectionate young mother with her little girl. A banal incident - the child loses a doll - turns Leda darkly introspective, as the penetrating gaze of her critical intelligence comes to rest coldly on herself.
"Elena Ferrante" is the pseudonym of a best-selling but resolutely anonymous Italian author. Interestingly, Ferrante transmutes the insights of feminism into affecting art while shunning the assertion of self that the same feminism would urge on (presumably) her.