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Troubling Love Paperback – September 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 139 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372168
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372167
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The pseudonymous Italian author of Days of Abandonment returns with a daughter's attempt to unlock the mystery of her mother's death by drowning following years of domestic abuse. Days before her body washed ashore near her hometown of Naples, Amalia called her oldest daughter, Delia, now 45, with shocking news that she was with a man—not her estranged husband, a two-bit painter—then hung up, laughing. After the funeral (Amalia's husband doesn't show), Delia goes in search of the story behind the expensive new brassiere Amalia was found wearing at her death, incongruous for a poor seamstress who deliberately downplayed her good looks to avoid arousing her husband's savage jealousy. Caserta, a man who acted as Delia's father's agent as well as rival for Amalia's attention, plays a role here—and in Delia's past. In tactile, beautifully restrained prose, Ferrante makes the domestic violence that tore the household apart evident, including the child Delia's attempts to guard her mother from the beatings of her father. By the time of the denouement, Ferrante has forcefully delineated how the complicity in violence against women perpetuates a brutal cycle of repetition and silence. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

This slender novel is set in motion by the strange circumstances surrounding a death, but it is more concerned with the enigma of memory and self. Delia, a cartoonist living in Rome, receives three incoherent phone calls from her mother, who is supposed to be on her way from Naples; the next day, her mother's nearly naked body washes up onshore at a seaside resort town. In Naples for the funeral, Delia is confronted with the past she tried to disown as she struggles to make sense of the events leading to her mother's drowning. A shadowy figure named Caserta, the man Delia, as a five-year-old, accused her mother of having an affair with, reemerges as possibly the last person to see her alive. Ferrante's polished language belies the rawness of her imagery, which conveys perversity, violence, and bodily functions in ripe detail. Delia's discovery of the secret of her childhood is made all the more jarring by the story's disorienting mixture of fantasy and reality.
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This intense psychological novel, recently translated into English, recreates a daughter's efforts to understand her mother following her mother's mysterious death. Delia, an artist of comic strips, receives three strange phone calls from her mother just before her mother disappears on her way from Naples to Rome to visit Delia. When the body of Amalia, Delia's mother, is ultimately discovered floating near a beach, she is nude, except for a piece of designer underwear, not typical for her mother. Though she has never been close to her mother, Delia is understandably curious about the circumstances of her death, and she leaves Rome to investigate her mother's life in Naples.

There she learns from a neighbor that her mother had been seeing someone. An expensive shirt belonging to a man, and a garbage bag containing her mother's well-mended underclothing, are the only clues to Amalia's recent life. A strange telephone caller tells Delia to leave the laundry bag of dirty clothing for him, and he indicates that he has left a suitcase of her mother's things in the apartment, new designer items, unlike anything her mother has ever worn.

So begins Delia's quest to discover who her mother really was--and, in the process, who she herself is. As she reconnects with a friend from childhood and learns about her mother's recent relationship, she is forced to remember early events in her relationship with her mother, and to re-examine her feelings about her mother's life from her present adult perspective. Ultimately, she must rethink her own role in affecting the outcome of her mother's life.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By kubanna on January 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
"For all the days of her life she had reduced the uneasiness of bodies to paper and fabric..." So Delia describes the life of her deceased mother Amalia, a seamstress. Both the uneasiness of bodies and the way we clothe ourselves are recurring themes in this beautifully crafted and expertly translated novel. Elena Ferrante uses these themes to explore the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, conveying the simultaneous longing and revulsion felt by daughters for their mothers. Of her mother, Delia claims, "I was identical to her and yet I suffered because of the incompleteness of that identity." She reacts by running away from Naples and does not return until forced to do so by her mother's mysterious death. The ensuing trip turns into a deep exploration of Delia & Amalia's pasts and each woman's desires.

As a narrator, Delia is at once distant and intensely emotional. This makes her one of the most compelling characters I have found in modern literature. This book was so engrossing that I read it from start to finish in just under two days. I have discovered a new favorite author in Elena Ferrante.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Leigh barbier on April 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did not love this book as much as My Brilliant Friend or Days of Abandonment , but it is memorable. If you have ever experienced the mutual absorption of you and your mother into each other, you will appreciate how Ferrante beautifully describes this skin crawling, compelling and visceral process.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ilse Cordoni on February 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Elena Ferrante is a FIERCE writer . . .but this is not my favorite book of hers. A rather obsessive mother/daughter story . . .not an easy read but for those who like her writing as much as I do, in general, I'd still recommend it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By My2Cents TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Troubling Love is my third book by an Italian author, who goes by the pseudonym, Elena Ferrante. The other two books, The Days of Abandonment and The Lost Daughter, also published as Europa Editions were a treat to read. All three books were translated from Italian, by Ann Goldstein who did a great job.

Troubling Love, packs a punch, beginning with the opening sentence...."My mother drowned on the night of May 23rd, my birthday, in the sea at a place called Spaccavento, a few miles from Minturno. "

Told from the POV of Delia, the 40+ year old daughter of the late Amalia. While waiting for her mother to visit her traveling from Naples to Rome, Delia receives several strange telephone calls from her mother. One indicating that a man was following her and wanted to wrap her in a carpet, and then another saying that she was going to have a bath. She was discovered floating in the sea, wearing only a lacy and expensive bra, the type of undergarment that her mother would not normally have worn.

Early on the reader learns that when Delia was young, her mother's absences caused Delia much anxiety, as she would stare out of the window endlessly waiting for her return. As an adult, Delia and her mother had a rocky relationship. When her mother would come for a visit she would reorganize her daughter's home to her own liking, causing friction between the two. At her mother's funeral, Delia feels relieved about not having to worry about her 63 year-old mother any longer --she doesn't shed a tear at her funeral, like her two sisters did. Amalia's husband, who she had been estranged from for many many years, did not attend the funeral.

After the funeral, Delia goes to her mother's "dirty and ugly" 4th floor apartment, and begins to look around.
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