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.)
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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