Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Days of Abandonment” as Want to Read:
The Days of Abandonment
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Days of Abandonment

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  24,695 ratings  ·  2,766 reviews
A national bestseller for almost an entire year, The Days of Abandonment shocked and captivated its Italian public when first published. It is the gripping story of a woman's descent into devastating emptiness after being abandoned by her husband with two young children to care for. When she finds herself literally trapped within the four walls of their high-rise apartment ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Europa Editions (first published 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Days of Abandonment, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Tracey No, this has nothing to do with the Neapolitan Quartet, as it is a separate story. Set in Turin, it chronicles a woman's descent into madness when her…moreNo, this has nothing to do with the Neapolitan Quartet, as it is a separate story. Set in Turin, it chronicles a woman's descent into madness when her husband leaves her and their children for a younger woman. It is a hard and disturbing read and I think she nails what it is like for someone to have a mental disconnection with reality. It is very good but hard to read. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,695 ratings  ·  2,766 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Days of Abandonment
What happens when a person’s domestic life with spouse and children, their entire personal existence, cracks like a bottle of wine and spills all over the floor?
The Days of Abandonment happens.

The atmosphere of this book is far more powerful than the sum of each of its words. The shape of the telling fits the theme perfectly, and the honesty of Olga, the narrator, allows the reader to share in her experience, to look through every line, to gaze downward and feel the vertigo of the depths, th
Violet wells
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Oh dear!

Basically the Neapolitan novels render this book completely obsolete. It’s like a crude test drive for the character of Elena.

Elena is called Olga in this novel and is the woman from hell. A kind of fantasy creation of how we might behave in our most self-indulgent, man-hating and self-pitying incarnation. Essentially she’s an educated thirty eight woman who behaves like an adolescent crackhead. I could imagine Meryl Streep playing her in a film, except the film I saw would have been a
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Almodovar's "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" + Margaret Atwood's terrific uberfeminist two first published novels + Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story avatar heroine from The Yellow Wallpaper = THIS, a novel with absolutely perfect symbolism that describes the descent of this woman goin' bonkers, with the overflow of emotions which invades her after being left for the "other woman." Incendiary & insightful, Elena Ferrante is one authentic discovery! ...more
I first heard about Elena Ferrante about a year ago when everyone seemed to read her Neapolitan saga. So I joined the club too and read My brilliant friend, the first installment of the series. I pretty liked that one though to be honest sometimes I was lost in the plethora of names and constantly confused who was who and with whom. I didn’t find the language especially captivating but it was nicely written and I hadn’t any problem with reading it. But if I had to indicate any reservation it wo ...more
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the sixth novel I have read by Elena Ferrante, and let me tell you her characters are not introspective, contemplative people. They are angry people pissed off in a variety of complex ways about why their lives have turned to shit. In The Days of Abandonment a husband leaves his wife and two children. The wife, our narrator, is incapable of finding a way to live singly. Slowly she falls apart. Not halfway through yet and I’m beginning to wonder if she may not end up institutionalized. Th ...more
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Garima by: Fionnuala & Stephen
Look at me, I said to the glass in a whisper, a breath. The mirror was summing up my situation- The worse side, the better side, geometry of the hidden.

The stage is set with everything at its right place. The lunch is prepared, served and without further ado, an unexpected and grievous announcement is made from across the table with a nonchalance rightly belonging to some stranger rather than that one dear person who shared with you yet another embarrassingly funny tale of his teenage self as a
Elyse  Walters
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not nearly as good as Elena Ferrante's Naples Quartet.

Engaging writing about a husband who leaves his wife and children, but I felt 'neutral'. I read this just before reading "Ties" by Domenico Starnone. A similar type story.

By the end of 'both' novels -- I wanted to fly kites with the kids and get them ice cream cones. The adults can go play in their own sandboxes.

I'm glad I read this short book and "Ties"..... but it made me miss 'the Quartet series.....especially book Two and Three.

Well w
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, translated
Ferrante is a master at capturing human emotion. Not only that, her sentences are so delightful and can turn from horrifying to elating in a matter of seconds. I'm happy to say this one did not disappoint. ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I hesitate between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. On one hand, it is a visceral, brutal read - the story of Olga's near disintegration in the aftermath of her being abandoned by her husband Marco. On the day that she discovers the identity of the lover for whom Marco has left - and this takes up probably half of the book - all hell breaks loose: her son vomits in his sleep and has a huge fever and her dog (well Mario's dog) gets sick and dies, probably poisoned. In the midst of all this calamity ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Nothing you read about Elena Ferrante's work prepares you for the ferocity of it."
—Amy Rowland, The New York Times

The book is acerbic, biting, warm, horrifying, searing, endearing, astounding, changing like the weather. The days, weeks and months following an Italian man’s announcement that he is leaving his wife and two children. Ferrante jolts the reader little more than a hundred words in, by having Olga, her first person narrator, conclude her description of her abandonment: “Then he assum
Aug 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jibran by: women in translation month '16
Shelves: italian
When you don't know how to keep a man you lose everything.

It is easy to say that the build-up to Olga’s sense of abandonment and her descent into the abyss of her psychological breakdown couldn’t quite hold together after her abrupt transformation back into normality underscored by a sense of contained pain; I don’t know how to put it adequately (I'm feeling as inadequate as people say they do when they review Stoner) but there is something entirely missing from the bigger picture that could, sa
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who want to explore the workings of the mind
Recommended to Cheryl by: Fionnuala
"I wanted to write stories about women with resources, women of invincible words, not a manual for the abandoned wife with her lost love at the top of her thoughts. I was young, I had pretensions. I didn't like the impenetrable page, like a lowered blind. I liked light, air between the slats…I loved the writers who made you look through every line, to gaze downward and feel the vertigo of the depths, the blackness of inferno."

Was this Ferrante speaking through her main character, Olga? The m
Paul Bryant
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
First person novels featuring women going slightly or more than slightly bonkers are not hard to come by, in fact they may be a whole sub-genre. These are some I have read in the last couple of years

Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce in which a waitress has way too much sex and drugs (but hardly any rock and roll)
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh in which Eileen (who else) is driven to the point of distraction by her alky father and does something really crazy
Dietland by Sarai Walker in which the self loa
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This is as close to perfection a novel told in the first person can achieve. A knock against "women's literature"is that it never aims for, or achieves, a large-scale canvas. Ambitious men prefer architecture over sensitivity, evidence shows. Nothing like reading another 700 page book from Mitchell or Murakami. Ordinarily the lack of curiosity about those outside one's class explains why: the preference for one's circle of intimates where uncertainties and dangers are kept away. In less than 200 ...more
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

Elena Ferrante is an author I would never have checked out in the first place, if it wasn't for the fact that this book in particular was recommended to me by a bookish friend I trust. I mean let's be honest, that cover doesn't do this book any justice - it's terrible. And I know people say you should never judge a book by its cover, but most people I guarantee would have. This is why I implore all of you to read this book.

This is the depiction of one woman, Olga, and how she deals (o
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wanted to dive straight into the Neapolitan series but decided for a taste tester first with this novel and I’m so glad I did. Olga is abandoned by her unfaithful husband, leaving her for a much younger woman. This leaves Olga disoriented with rage and you feel her grasp slowly dissolving to catastrophic proportions it’s so cleverly written (also disturbingly funny at times) you feel the torment dripping off the pages. You feel her painful wrath and her emotional distress so alive you can feel ...more
I hated this book for 85% of it, then the last 15% weren't all bad, and I kind of lost all that built-up rage... Anyway, I won't let that soften the blow, because this was torture to listen to. I'm not sure how much of my repulsion stems from the book itself, and how much can be blamed on the gratingly bitchy narrator. There's some cleverness in how Olga turns into what she once thought she never would become, but that does in no way redeem the book.

I simply couldn't stand Olga. She's definitely
Laura Wallace
When I finished Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House two days ago, all I wanted to do as read another book exactly like that one. But the thing about Shirley Jackson's books is, there is no other book exactly like this. Next on my list was The Days of Abandonment. Not only is it the most recent Emily Books selection, but I've heard nothing but good things about Elena Ferrante in general. So I was looking forward to the book. But I did not think a novel about a middle-aged housewife in Tu ...more

My reviews of Lacci and this book are interconnected . The beginning of each are the same.

Elena Ferrante published her work in 2002, while Domenico Starnone (husband of Anita Raja, the person behind the Ferrante pen name) published his twelve years later, in 2014.

I read them in the wrong order because I did not know what I have written above. Lacci came into my view in the GR feed, and I picked it up because I was looking for short works in Italian. Ferrante I had been holding off until I felt
Sidharth Vardhan
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sidharth by: Vessey
"music is always soothing, it loosens the knots of nerves tied tight around the emotions"


"these women are stupid. Cultured women, in comfortable circumstances, they broke like knickknacks in the hands of their straying men. They seemed to me sentimental fools: I wanted to be different, I wanted to write stories about women with resources, women of invincible words, not a manual for the abandoned wife with her lost love at the top of her thoughts"

When we read a novel by an African-American auth
Julie Christine
One April afternoon, right after lunch, my husband announced that he wanted to leave me.

And so begins Olga's descent into the heart of her own darkness. The Days of Abandonment packs a wallop of tension and cringe-inducing desperation into 188 pages of elegantly-rendered narrative. This isn't the story of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, this is THE nervous breakdown, in all its raw ugliness. We may tut-tut as we read Olga's hair-raising mayhem, but really, isn't this what we fear, i
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Ferrantes novel is taut and precise,not necessarily plot driven.This is an exploration of the mental turmoil and anguish of a woman whose husband suddenly removes himself from the family home in Turin.Themes of abandonment,control,isolation,and recovery and much more.Very satisfying and succeeds wonderfully.Four Stars
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Vessey by: Fionnuala
Shelves: 4-stars
Slightly spoilery

"Existence is a start of joy, a stab of pain, an intense pleasure, veins that pulse under the skin, there is no other truth to tell."

Abandonment. Loneliness. Rejection. How do we survive them? How does Olga survive, when her husband leaves her for a younger woman after fifteen years of marriage? By stepping outside of herself. She lets herself see. But is it only when we find ourselves tired of ourselves that we think to see outside of ourselves? And when we finally make thi
Raul Bimenyimana
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-writers
Olga's husband Mario decides to leave her and their children after fifteen years of marriage. What follows is an intense story of a woman struggling to maintain and regain control of herself and the world around her.

Standing at the edge and staring into the abyss. That's the image that settled in my mind after reading this story. While some of us don't know the pain of a spouse's betrayal, separation and eventual divorce, a lot of us have experienced states of depression and Ferrante brilliantly
Fiona MacDonald
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
I've kept seeing Elena Ferrante popping up on Goodreads and Amazon so I was expecting something rather wonderful when I dipped into this standalone novel. It follows the life of Olga, a woman on the verge of a breakdown after being dumped by her husband of many years for a younger model. It isn't just a book about an affair, it's a book about the deepest, darkest feelings a person can have about themselves and other people, and the precautions they must take to save themselves from drowning. Olg ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: Fionnuala
I feel torn over this book, though thankfully not in the way the main character Olga feels torn (fragmented) during what has to be the worst day of her life. It comes across as a day of mental illness, one that had its beginnings in previous days and will have repercussions in days to come, days in which she tamps down the feelings that arise. Yet to call it mental illness (and no one does) is probably inaccurate.

Ferrante seems to have captured any and all emotions and behaviors that might arise
This was emotional and searing and I finished it in one afternoon and it left me some combination of sad and angry and melancholy for the rest of the day, and it's going to be a pretty long time before I can talk about it, I think. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: World Cup of Literature 2014, Reading Envy Episode 169,
"Maybe I was too tired to maintain the usual order of the world."

Olga is almost 40 when her husband leaves her with two children and a dog, and she struggles violently with the emotions and fallout of this unwelcome change. Ferrante can write unpleasantness so well (and claustrophobia, and loss of control) but I think I'd point more readers to her Neapolitan novels before this one. They are also violent but in a different way, and have more going on. This is much more focused on the internal jou
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel is a powerful account of the emotional stresses of abandonment. I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss this simply as a novel about an unhinged woman. Though at times extreme, the essence of Olga’s experience is genuine, and speaks to the complex and absorbing nature of that emotional state. When I was young, I saw my mother go through something similar.

What Days of Abandonment captures so effectively is the extent to which an experience like this can collapse the tower of neatly stacked
Diane Barnes
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
" One afternoon, right after lunch, my husband announced that he wanted to leave me". That's a first sentence that leaves you turning pages quickly, even though Olga's descent into pain and near madness is as hard to read about as a train wreck is to watch. They were married for 15 years, have 2 children, and Mario just walks out. She is left to cope, though not very well, her children suffer neglect, as does the dog, and she attempts to figure out what she did wrong. It culminates in the worst ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Lacci
  • Torto Arado
  • Sul
  • L'Arminuta
  • Confidenza
  • Poufne
  • Moj muž
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
  • Trick
  • Bezmatek
  • Suíte Tóquio
  • Mliječni zubi
  • Ivana pred morjem
  • Outline
  • Uhvati zeca
  • Nikuda ne idem
  • Od jednego Lucypera
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Elena Ferrante is a pseudonymous Italian novelist. Ferrante's books, originally published in Italian, have been translated into many languages. Her four-book series of Neapolitan Novels are her most widely known works. ...more

Articles featuring this book

Melissa Broder's risqué new book, The Pisces, is a fantastical tale mixing merman lust with group therapy. To celebrate the book's...
48 likes · 34 comments
“The circle of an empty day is brutal and at night it tightens around your neck like a noose.” 157 likes
“Existence is this, I thought, a start of joy, a stab of pain, an intense pleasure, veins that pulse under the skin, there is no other truth to tell.” 81 likes
More quotes…