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The Lying Life of Adults: A Novel Hardcover – September 1, 2020
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★ “A girl, a city, an inhospitable society: Ferrante’s formula works again!”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
★ “Ferrante’s ability to draw in her readers remains unparalleled. [ . . . ] The novel simmers with overt rage toward parental deception, teachers’ expectations and society’s impossible ideals of beauty and behavior.”—BookPage (Starred Review)
★ “Fans of Ferrante’s first two Neapolitan novels, My Brilliant Friend (2012) and The Story of a New Name (2013), will especially revel in Giovanna’s confessional, perceptive, gut-wrenching, and often funny narration of what she calls her ‘arduous approach to the adult world.’”—Booklist (Starred Review)
“What a relief it is when an author who has written a masterpiece returns to prove the gift intact.”—Dayna Tortorici, The New York Times Book Review
“[The Lying Life of Adults] is suspenseful and propulsive; in style and theme, a sibling to [Ferrante’s] previous books. But it’s also a more vulnerable performance, less tightly woven and deliberately plotted, even turning uncharacteristically jagged at points as it explores some of the writer’s touchiest preoccupations.”—Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
“In The Lying Life of Adults, Ms. Ferrante once again, with undiminished skill and audacity, creates an emotional force field that has at its heart a young girl on the brink of womanhood.”—Anna Mundow, Wall Street Journal
“The Lying Life of Adults affirms that Ferrante is an oracle among authors, writing literary epics as illuminating as origin myths, explaining us to ourselves.”—Claire Luchette, O, The Oprah Magazine
“Ferrante is a specialist in composure: the drama of achieving, losing, feigning, and regaining composure is central to her work.”—Elaine Blair, New York Review of Books
“Nowhere else, as much as in The Lying Life of Adults, do we see Ferrante’s splendidly harsh laws of physics so clearly laid out. Ugliness may hurt, but it is a hurt that strikes clean and true; ugliness may not be pretty, but sometimes it is unbearably beautiful.”—Sarah Chihaya, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Ferrante’s signature frankness about sex and the unruly female body exist alongside reflections on the unreliable stories we share about ourselves.”—Tomi Obaro, BuzzFeed
“The Lying Life of Adults is slinky and scowling as a Neapolitan cat [ . . . ] Gentility, manners and even ideals have no power over sex, which is for Ferrante's characters an almost ungovernable force.”—Annalisa Quinn, NPR
“Yes, this book lives up to its author’s reputation, and then some. [ . . . ] Giovanna’s fate, containing elements both expected and unexpected, makes her one of this year’s most memorable heroines.”—Bethanne Patrick, The Boston Globe
“Exquisitely moody [ . . . ] A marvelously disconcerting novel of disillusionment.”—Merve Emre, The Atlantic
“Novels like The Lying Life of Adults do indeed contain wisdom [and] Ferrante lets us both share the intensity of this formative experience and be amused by it. As in the Neapolitan novels, and in much of the best first-person fiction, the relationship between telling one’s life story and understanding oneself is central. As long as it is as well-told as Ferrante’s version, it is a story we never tire of.”—Marion Winik, The Washington Post
“A wild shuffle of moments exhilarating and torturous, The Lying Life of Adults reads like a distillation of adolescence itself.”—Lauren Mechling, Vogue
“The Lying Life of Adults reads like an intimate confession or urgent confidence, and it will leave the reader as shaken and invigorated as it does its young protagonist.”—Jenny Shank, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Ferrante makes Naples come alive in her latest literary feat.”—Newsweek
“Ferrante is still Ferrante — her characters have wide-spanned souls and so does Naples, exuding the smells of the sea and gasoline and baking crust.”—Hillary Kelly, Los Angeles Times
“Prepare to be obsessed all over again.”—Town and Country
“[The Lying Life of Adults] has a timeless quality—the turmoil, judgment and bewildering choices that girls face as their bodies morph and their minds begin to explore independent thought are eternal.”—Belinda Luscombe, TIME Magazine
“The narrative itself is captivating: an up-close portrait of a woman reflecting back on the mysterious years of her adolescence, the transition from child to adult, from youthful ignorance to a deeper, more complicated understanding about her city, those around her, and ultimately, herself.”—Rachel Duboff, Los Angeles Review of Books
“The Lying Life of Adults should absolutely be at the top of your TBR list this September.”—Barnes & Noble Reads
“[Ferrante is] a writer whose work transcends genre.”—Lewis Beale, The Daily Beast
“Ferrante’s depiction of pubescent angst leaps off the page, never flinching away from the agony of minor humiliations [ . . . ] Ferrante knows exactly how to tell a story.”—Claire Fallon, Huffington Post
“The Lying Life of Adults shares with Ferrante’s great Neapolitan novels the sly knack of undercutting whatever straightforward thing it seems to be saying on its surface.”—Laura Miller, Slate
“It’s a safe bet that the mysterious Ferrante’s new stand-alone novel, about a teenage girl scouring Naples in search of the estranged aunt with whom she allegedly bears a resemblance, will be one of the most book-clubbed books of the year.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“The Lying Life of Adults is a gripping novel about coping with change and creating the closure you need to move forward.”—ForeWord Reviews
“With the publication of The Lying Life of Adults, we see an author at her peak.”—Asymptote Magazine
“Ferrante has a gift, perhaps even a genius, for making great literature out of melodrama.”—Judith Thurman, The New Yorker
INTERNATIONAL PRAISE FOR THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS
“Elena Ferrante is so good [ . . . ] An astonishing, deeply moving tale of the sorts of wisdom, beauty and knowledge that remain as unruly as the determinedly inharmonious faces of these women.”—The Guardian
“Ms Ferrante’s unique style—again superbly captured by Ann Goldstein’s translation—is as urgent as ever, proceeding by confrontation and volcanic self-revelation, with little traditional description.”—The Economist
“The Lying Life of Adults is the most intense writing about the experiences and interior life of a girl on the cusp of adulthood that I have ever read. It is brilliant.”—Financial Times
“Somehow, Ferrante finds and asks the question that is at the heart of the adolescent experience, that underscores all the pettiness and the posturing and the bravado and the crippling self-doubt.”—Esquire (UK)
“Ferrante’s page-turner talent for suspenseful storytelling and vigorously peopled scenes is on peak form.”—The Times, Best Fiction Books of 2020
“There is an undeniable pleasure in experiencing the world through Ferrante’s lens. Her characters have a physical quality that is difficult to quantify. The Lying Life of Adults will definitely satisfy hardcore fans as well as win her new ones.”—The Winnipeg Free Press
About the Author
Elena Ferrante is the author of The Days of Abandonment (Europa, 2005), which was made into a film directed by Roberto Faenza, Troubling Love (Europa, 2006), adapted by Mario Martone, and The Lost Daughter (Europa, 2008), soon to be a film directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. She is also the author of Incidental Inventions (Europa, 2019), illustrated by Andrea Ucini, Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey (Europa, 2016) and a children’s picture book illustrated by Mara Cerri, The Beach at Night (Europa, 2016). The four volumes known as the “Neapolitan quartet” (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child) were published by Europa Editions in English between 2012 and 2015. My Brilliant Friend, the HBO series directed by Saverio Costanzo, premiered in 2018.
Ann Goldstein has translated into English all of Elena Ferrante’s books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Story of the Lost Child, which was shortlisted for the MAN Booker International Prize. She has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship and is the recipient of the PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award. She lives in New York.
- Publisher : Europa Editions; Reprint, Translation edition (September 1, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 324 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1609455916
- ISBN-13 : 978-1609455910
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.4 x 1.4 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #18,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Boring and undeveloped characters...stopped in the middle and read the last few pages.
Surprise ! Just the same as the the first half.
relatively brief and left me again wanting more (3 more!)I think the author is brilliant and a true artist.
Giovanni worships her father, but she’s also a critical observer. Things at home begin to break down when she hears her refined father compare her to her Aunt Vittoria, the black sheep of her father, Andrea’s, family, a free spirit and someone Andrea calls “ugly.” When Gianni overhears that, she’s stunned, and immediately concludes that she must be ugly like Vittoria, and demands to meet her. THE LYING LIFE is a gem of a coming-of-age tale.
Vittoria seems like a classic Borderline Personality Disorder with hints of an untreated breezy bipolar disorder on the side. Her potty mouth could set a sailor’s teeth on edge or make your grandmother faint. Yet, she evoked empathy in me, with her contrasting and unrealistic eternal love (more like lust) for a boyfriend who died twenty years ago, and who looked coarse and minimally educated. He was a cop and petty grifter with a wife and children, all who Vittoria has grown as close to as family. Vittoria is blatant, blunt, and confident of her perceptions.
Gianni, after a shocking discovery regarding her parents, begins hanging out with her aunt, in the seedier part of Naples, and her aunt’s self-made and religious family. Gianni was raised by atheist parents, as were all their friends, who are largely academics. Gianni also meets the blue collar kin that her father rejected.
Over the course of the following years, Gianni learns some harsh lessons and hears even harsher secrets about her father and mother. She decides her life is her own to do as she pleases, and becomes the rebellious daughter who shirks her tony friends and gets an education in sex, love, and its full-throated realities. Throughout it all, Giovanni’s voice is riveting, exuberant, and commanding.
Themes of identity, betrayal, and all that a bildungsroman contains, in a tight ball of fire. Not one dull moment. Charismatic, engrossing, and bold, it will surely be one of my favorites of the year. “Lies, lies, adults forbid them and yet they tell so many.”
Top reviews from other countries
The first sentence of the book really grabbed my attention and we’re welcomed into the world of 12 year old Giovanna. Covering family politics, adolescence, burgeoning sexuality and friendships, Ferrante wrote about complexities and realities of growing up, but her 12 year old main character felt as if she had the intellect of a much older person. Written from the Giovanna’s perspective, the tone of the book felt misplaced and overly stylised, trying too hard to be philosophical and astute.
All of the characters, both young and old, were petulant and flawed, written in a way that made them feel like a caricature and half formed, however there are glimpses of common experiences and encounters from adolescence years everyone can relate to.
I liked Giovanna’s perspective but her age made her an unbelievable character, talking about sex, relationships and families in a way no 12 year old would. And as so much happens in the book and there are so many characters to remember, it felt like the novel should have been about Giovanna’s entire life as opposed to year or two.
Some pages and episodes I loved, however overall the book felt hard to read and underdeveloped.