Book Review: The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

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Italian author, Elena Ferrante, sheds a truthfully shocking light on the collapse of Olga, an abandoned wife, in her novel ‘The Days of Abandonment’.

Her potent take on how the roles of the woman, wife and mother interact are captivating; man leaves wife for a younger, prettier model and, naturally, wife collapses into an ‘absence of sense’. She deteriorates and is crazed. Man makes woman, enabling the role of wife and mother, and then man destroys woman, as Olga is gradually stripped of her identity. She becomes ‘an obsolete wife, a cast-off body, [whose] illness is only female life that outlived its usefulness’.

Olga confronts the newfound hardship of everyday life, the city she lives in, the claustrophobia of her empty home with disturbing and enveloping candour. Olga’s frenzied, blunt narrative is intense and gripping, bringing the reader down into the depths of instability and solitude with her. Totally unsentimental, occasionally radical, we are shown a window into the emotional struggle and erotic confusions of a woman’s mind in a way that somehow makes the vulgar, beautiful.

Perhaps the next step is to see if Roberto Faenza’s 2005 film adaptation is equally as striking.

by Isabelle Pitman, Razz Film and Literature Corespondent

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