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The Days of Abandonment Paperback – September 1, 2005
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
Top Customer Reviews
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.
But no one talks about it. Probably because it hurts so damned much. Eventually, the mother and children get through the ordeal, each with their own private scars, but it just becomes a bad spot in the past, like a bruise on a banana.
Elena Ferrante talks about it. In Days of Abandonment, she goes into the home of Olga, Ilaria and Gianni and shows us what went on behind that closed door after Mario, husband and father, left them for Carla. The story is from Olga's point of view, and it is her anguish we feel most poignantly. But we see all of them, Olga, Ilaria, Gianni, even Otto the dog, swirling in the wake of Mario's departure. They plummet until it doesn't seem they can go any lower. Then they begin to heal.
The well-being of the mother and children can be measured by the way they view Carrano, their neighbor. When the story starts out, they see him through the eyes of Mario. Mario didn't like Carrano, and his observations were taken in by the rest of the family without question. After Mario leaves, Carrano goes through a remarkable series of transformations. He starts out sullen, unattractive and rude and migrates through lechery, incompetence to being a source of comfort.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A rather disturbing chronicle of a woman's life when her husband leaves her after 15 years of marriage and 2 children for a much younger woman. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Joann Nash
I am in love with Elena Ferrante's writing. I've read the whole "Brilliant Friend" series, sometimes listening (I do audio) to certain passages over and over again. Read morePublished 9 days ago by hawthorne wood
Amazing and terribly honest study of marriage and the trauma of broken relationships. Fasten your seatbelt for a ride through the complete darkness of loneliness and despair... Read morePublished 14 days ago by D. Witscher
Not as wonderful as the Ferrante x4 I just finished - and couldn't put down. Ever. At all. But I STILL READ IT STRAIGHT THROUGH.
And glad I did. 3-1/2 stars.
Elena Ferrante has become a highly regarded novelist. Known now on both sides of the ocean, her work is superbly written. Read morePublished 1 month ago by E. Holden
Anyone whose marriage is betrayed by infidelity will enjoy the book. It should be a companion book to The Cinderella Complex, published decades ago. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Elena Macias
Started off interesting in first and second chapters, but the despair just went on and on and on and on and on .... couldn't take it.!Published 1 month ago by Nikiwiki