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The Days of Abandonment Paperback – September 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372006
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Once an aspiring writer, Olga traded literary ambition for marriage and motherhood; when Mario dumps her after 15 years, she is utterly unprepared. Though she tells herself that she is a competent woman, nothing like the poverella (poor abandoned wife) that mothers whispered about in her childhood, Olga falls completely apart. Routine chores overwhelm her; she neglects her appearance and forgets her manners; she throws herself at the older musician downstairs; she sees the poverella's ghost. After months of self-pity, anger, doubt, fury, desperation and near madness, her acknowledgments of weaknesses in the marriage feel as earned as they are unsurprising. Smoothly translated by New Yorker editor Goldstein, this intelligent and darkly comic novel—which sat atop Italian bestseller lists for nearly a year, has been translated into 12 languages and adapted for an Italian film slated for 2006 release—conveys the resilience of a complex woman. Speculation about the identity of the pseudonymous Ferrante, whose previous novel is scheduled for 2006 release by Europa, has reached Pynchon-like proportions in Italy. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

In this deeply observed, excruciatingly blunt novel, Olga, a middle-aged wife and mother, is plunged into a breakdown after her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Her anguish is expressed through obscenity and violence, as she neglects her children and day-to-day responsibilities to obsess over what sexual acts her husband and his lover might be performing. Olga's rage and self-pity threaten to turn her into something of a monster; when she hears her daughter crying for her, she thinks, "But why should I hurry? I discovered with remorse that, if the child needed me, I felt no need of her." Still, Ferrante knows just when to let up, and the redemptive note struck by the ending is a welcome reprieve.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

The writing is beautiful and haunting.
Marie Estorge
If read over days, this would have been an unbearable story--I don't know that I would've had been able to pick the book up again and again.
The writing was tedious, boring and didn't live up to the hype.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By C. Hutton on September 25, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable novel about the abandonment of an Italian wife by her cad of a husband. The translation reads so smoothly that the reader would not be aware that the book originated in Italy. A quick read at less than 200 pages, "The Days Of Abandonment" is for anyone who suffers an unexpected rejection from a long-time lover or spouse.

The novel is accurate in tracing the major depression that Olga undergoes and comes through with agonizing pain and not always with grace. But she does come through it. The universality of abandonment is the same whether the reader is in Italy or America or anywhere else.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every once in a while a book comes around that is very difficult to review. Ms. Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment is one of those. The reason for this is that, though I am enthralled by Ms. Ferrante’s technique and the emotional truth that she uncovers in her story, I just don’t like it very much.

The story is straightforward enough: Olga and her two children, Gianni and Ilaria, are abandoned by her husband, Mario, for a younger woman; in fact, a much younger woman whom the entire family once knew well. Olga’s life proceeds to fall apart. The bulk of the novel examines the first few months of Olga’s life on her own.

Though nothing about Olga’s subsequent behavior seems in any way false, her level of anger and violence is foreign to me. I cannot connect to her willingness to verbally abuse everyone around her, physically attack her husband, and severely neglect her children and dog. I understand there are real people like her but at my lowest I have never found it in me to act out in profanity and violence. Because of this, I am unable to fully appreciate this novel’s excellences.

I also struggle with books that have no sympathetic characters. Not only is Olga problematic but also Mario. He abandons his family and appears to be guilty of statutory rape but exhibits not the slightest bit of remorse. The children behave horribly to a mother who is clearly struggling. These are difficult people with whom to spend time.

However, the literary part of me cannot deny that this is a well-done book. In particular, I was carried to the end by how well Olga’s ascent out of depression played so well with the person that was developed in the first part of the book. But it was not enough to save the experience for me.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By L. Young VINE VOICE on September 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
In brilliant prose that is sometimes lyrical and sometimes brutal,this Italian novel puts us inside the mind of 38 year old Olga, mother of two young children, after she is abandoned by her husband for a younger woman. Olga is bereft. Her sense of self collapses and we watch as she descends into a kind of madness, haunted by the specter of the 'poverella', a woman abandoned by her husband who lived in Olga's building during Olga's childhood. However, what I found flawed about this beautifully written book is twofold. First, we are never shown how she emerges from her meltdown. It just seems to happen. Secondly, the ending is a cop out. Olga conveniently and quickly finds another man to take the place of the one who has left her. So in the end what has she really learned about herself as a human being, one not part of a couple? The message seems to be that a woman needs a man in her life in order to survive. For those readers who are animal lovers, be aware that there is a disturbing scene in the novel involving the death of the family's pet dog.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Spilka on May 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a stomach-churning whirlwind of destructiveness and hate. The reason for the narrator's meltdown is her husband's abandonment of her for a younger woman: "Now at thirty-eight," she moans, "I was reduced to nothing, I couldn't even act as I thought I should. No work, no husband, numbed, blunted" (30). And so the self-pitying wail continues for countless pages. The narrator behaves as if she were the first and only woman to lose a husband. Her reactions are astounding. She is "overwhelmed by responsibilities" (78), she stops cooking and neglects her sick son and sick dog. She can't tolerate her children: "[M]ay be I really wanted to abandon them for ever, forget about them" (65). She wants to "levitate," to detach herself "from the earth"(97).

Throughout the book, the narrator regards herself as a woman who has outlived her "usefulness" (110-111). "Usefulness" is a strange description for a woman, or a man, but given that, we wonder, has she lost, at thirty-eight, her attractiveness as a woman? She sees herself as "a cast-off body" (110). Incredible! Is Italy, in its attitude to women, still stuck in the nineteen-century, or is this the narrator's own individualistic and self-hating misconception? It is also worth noting, in the context of age, that she regards Carrano, her sympathetic neighbor, as old, very old, at fifty-three! This is how she describes him with her characteristic disdain: "What were the secrets of a man alone, a male obsession with sex, perhaps, the late-life cult of the cock. Certainly he, too, saw no further than his ever-weaker squirt of sperm..." (50). Really?! Has she never heard of men at Carrano's age, or even much older, who fathered children? Does life in Italy stop at twenty-five?
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