The Lost Daughter
Elena Ferrante
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The Lost Daughter

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  309 ratings  ·  72 reviews
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ebook, 76 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by Europa Yearbook (first published 2006)
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distrubing in its honesty about women caught between children and career or fullfillment or just wanting to do and be their own person apart from mama or wife or cleaner or whathaveyou. clever too how author does this in title, she was a damaged daughter who wanted nothing more than to escape from her mother and grandmother in hillbilly naples, only to find she wanted nothing more than to escape from her phd husband and two daughters and pursue HER phd (which she did, and never looked back, for...more
This is going to sound strange -- I loved this book, but I didn't enjoy it. The story involves a mother of grown daughters who is dealing with her own ambivalence at what she gave up to assume that role. The author manages to take the flicker of lost independence that every mother feels and magnify it and state it in a brutal and unflinching way. I hated the narrator, but I couldn't look away.
A brutally frank novel of maternal ambivalence. A 40-something divorced mother of two grown daughters looks back and examines her feelings on motherhood. Although disturbing at times it was very intriguing. She is shockingly honest which is refreshing. I think many mothers have at some point felt at least a little of what she has written but would be afraid to admit for fear of how they would be viewed by others.
Erin Malone
I was riveted by the intensity of the narrator's experience as the mother of two grown daughters, the complicated feelings of love and self-reproach that eat away at her spirit long after she's no longer responsible for the care of the girls. All of this is tied up with a suspenseful plot, too--I read this book in one sitting.
Sarah Sandfort Schultz
To rate this book 3 stars and to say I "liked" it seems false--I absolutely hated the main character, Leda, and the theme of the book--Leda's choices as a mother and their ramifications for her and her family-is deeply disturbing in its dark portrayal. The New Yorker termed her last book "a deeply observed, excruciatingly blunt novel," and I think that holds for this one as well. However, the level of honesty in Leda's ambivalent feelings about motherhood are simultaneously hideous and...dare I...more
Leda è un'ancora piacente professoressa universitaria di quarantotto anni. Quando le due figlie si trasferiscono in Canada, presso il padre (dal quale Leda ha divorziato anni prima) lei si aspetta di provare nostalgia per le figlie, e un senso di abbandono. Sorprendendo anche se stessa, Leda vive invece questo distacco con una sorta di entusiasmo. La sua vita continua, scandita da ritmi personalissimi non più dimenticati a favore delle esigentissime figlie, si occupa dei suoi studi e si scopre p...more
Leda is a 47 year-old divorced woman, and mother to daughters, Bianca and Marta, now 22 and 24. The girls have recently moved from Italy to Toronto, Canada to live with their father. Leda is well educated and teaches at the university in Florence, Italy. Leda was not upset when her daughters moved away, in fact it was quite the opposite:

"When my daughters moved to Toronto, where their father had lived and worked for years, I was embarrassed and amazed to discover that I wasn't upset; rather, I...more
See my full review here: http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wor...

There are taboo subjects when it comes to motherhood – things that mothers might think about but rarely, if ever, talk about. Having favourite children; fantasisng about simply walking out and leaving the family to look after themselves; resenting children for robbing you of career or life aspirations; feeling jealous of your own children and their opportunities; judging other women’s’ parenting; loving your children but not ‘likin...more
I picked this book up at BEA10 at the Europa booth. If you've read The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I'm sure you noticed the beautiful, velvety, sumptuous cover. Well, all the Europa books have the same type of cover (with different artwork, of course) and I was immediately drawn in by their eye-appeal. Lost Daughter caught my eye, and although you aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, well... obviously I did. And I am SO glad I did!

This is a very short book; I might call it a novella. The...more
"The Lost Daughter" is one of those amazing books where the stream-of-consciousness works. In the present, the book is about a middle aged woman, Leda, who takes a beach-side vacation for the summer. Beneath the surface, it's about how her interactions with a Neapolitan family reminds her of her upbringing and, more poignantly, her relationships with her estranged daughters.

One thing I love about this book is that, even though I was in Leda's head, she managed to surprise me. She was filled with...more
Not a book for everyone. Translated from Italian to English, and I don't doubt some things are lost in translation. However, the (very short) novel touches upon universal themes most women with children can relate to on one level or another. Briefly, it is the story of a middle-aged professor reflecting back on her life choices regarding her marriage, career, and her two daughters, Bianca & Marta. These musings are inspired by her daughters having left her home & moved to Canada to live...more
E’ il primo libro della Ferrante che leggo ; chiunque essa sia, è bravissima . La figlia oscura e’ un romanzo magnifico, narrato in prima persona dalla protagonista con una piattezza voluta , come una litania , che continuando sempre uguale, prova un’ angoscia inspiegabile. La maternità, la femminilità, la solitudine sono i temi cardine del libro , toccati e descritti con una essenzialità carica di emozioni che lo rende davvero indimenticabile
Robert Wechsler
The most unusual thing about this novel is that its narrator and protagonist is an English literature professor who scarcely mentions any author or work of literature in her narrative. But this is only one of the odd things about this “lost daughter,” who is one of several in the novella. She is a singular narrator, not untrustworthy in the usual sense, but not to be trusted. And yet she is honest with a bluntness that is rare.

Another odd thing about this narrative is that we only know whom she...more
Sarahc Caflisch
I really loved this book, but subjectively can't give it five stars because it's so tautly written that I was in the throes of an acute anxiety attack the whole time I was reading it. I hate to say the phrase, "searingly honest," but actually it is a SEARINGLY HONEST look at motherhood. Sensuous and honestly brutal. I am looking forward/scared to reading another book by Ferrante.
This little book, well, it freaked me out. Ferrante's writing picks me up and plunks me right into the narrator's world, every time, and in this case the world looked a little familiar: it's not unlike the ill-fated beach trip in "Story of a New Name." Sure enough and much to my delight, shades of Lila and Stefano and Nino show up. Is the narrator here what Lenu becomes? Or are Lenu and Leda and Elena Ferrante, whoever she is, three different sides of the same smart coin? At any rate, Leda is di...more
Alexandra McCarthy
Certainly there are those who will find this book disturbing, for the many issues discussed such as child abandonment and adultery, but to right off the narrator as simply vain and selfish would be to miss the underlying meaning of the book. Some may categorize her as a poor mother, but I instead find her a strong, loving mother figure in the fact that she can confront her innermost demons and the brutal honesty about the struggle in child rearing. The beauty of Elena Ferrante is that she someho...more
Siobhan Fallon
Motherhood angst and a dose of pure genius. I tore through this novel and kept myself awake for nights thinking about it. If you like your fiction dark and provocative (and just a little bit unhinged), you will love Elena Ferrante as much as I do.
Chad Walker
Wow. This thing moves through you like an acidic breath of not-so-fresh air, but there's something magical to the voice that keeps the narrative moving very very quickly. The narrator is not particularly likeable, but she is smart, darkly funny and - above all - honest, which is more or less what this is an exercise in exploring. "The hardest things to talk about are the ones we ourselves can't understand": this nugget arrives on page 2, and then - through a series of minor, but menacing events...more
Karen Clement
Maybe the culture difference between the US and Italy ... can't relate to this woman's thoughts/emotions at all.
something is seriously wrong with Elena Ferrante, I would love to meet her for a cup of coffee and a long talk.
I kind of hated the woman in this story.
Melissa LaSalle
This is one of those books that you read and almost instantly want to 1) find someone else who has read it so you can make sense of it with them, and then 2) forget all about it because it's too painful to dwell on. At its heart, the short novel is about the ambivalence of motherhood, and (as a mother myself) there are times when it felt like I was reading about what would happen if I went rogue and acted on every destructive parental instinct that I've ever had! While I grew excruciatingly tire...more
A small book...packed with complexity. Still, there is a clarity and a cool modernism to the writing that keeps it from feeling dense. Most directly about motherhood, daughterhood, wifehood, I thought it was broader than all that, though. It is about identity, selfhood--there is a sort of foundational existentialism underlying the whole thing. This is the only work by Ferrante I've read, based on this alone she is a master of reversal. I love that a hat pin becomes the way you can't quite escape...more
So short that it should probably be called a novella, Lost Daughter is basically about maternal ambivalence. It is a closely observed story with a significant amount of interior dialogue. Translated from Italian, it is taut and tense. Although based on some very simple actions, it becomes almost a psychological thriller. It is difficult to put down, and difficult to keep reading. It is the kind of story that is bound to be described as brutally honest. The ambivalence of this mother is abhorrent...more
Loved, loved, loved this slim little book that packs a powerful punch. Ferrante explores the not-so-often talked about dark side of motherhood, when a middle-aged professor encounters a young woman on a beach vacation who stirs up troubling memories of her own relationship with her young daughters. She takes us into the heart of selfish desires vs societal expectations, and offers up a protagonist to whom we can relate, even if we can't quite like her. Extremely well written, this book got under...more
Claudia Putnam
If Dostoevsky wrote a female protagonist in first person, she might be one of Ferrante's narrators. Perhaps not concerned with quite the same things, but embodied in similar ways--the same kind of nervous system, in need, probably, of the same medications.

So, imagine someone of the complexity and vividness of a Dostoevskian character, with the additional difficulties of motherhood.


Luckily the books aren't as long, or we'd be as crazy as the protagonists are. And you know that thing where s...more
haunting and scary, though there is nothing really frightening in it other than the fear we all have of getting lost in our minds and then acting beyond social norms. Cool and strange.
Chaitali Sen
It's rare for me to equally love more than one book by the same author but Elena Ferrante is two for two now. I can't wait to read the next one.
Until I became a Mom, I don't believe I would have enjoyed this book. There is very limited plot; it's primarily a study into the protagonists' history and character, and the conflict between caring for your children without losing yourself in the process. If you're a Mother, there is a good likelihood you will find a lot of raw truth in the story; in all the things that the character feels but that go unstated in your life. If you're not a Mother, you may want to skip this one because I'm not s...more
A haunting read -I did enjoy reading it but was repelled by the narrator Leda at the same time. She reflects upon motherhood and her own ambivalence past and present about its impact upon her self hood and opportunities - but I didn't feel she had any major epiphanies during her sojourn to the holiday cabin she retreats to. The senseless act of minor cruelty she performs is never satisfactorily explored, I felt, leaving the reader to their own interpretation. As a mother of two small kids I felt...more
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Elena Ferrante is an Italian novelist. Ferrante is the author of a half dozen novels, including The Lost Daughter (originally published as La figlia oscura, 2006).
Critics have praised her for her "devastating power as a novelist" and for a style that is "pleasingly rigorous and sharply forthright."
More about Elena Ferrante...
The Days of Abandonment My Brilliant Friend The Story of a New Name Troubling Love Storia di chi fugge e di chi resta

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