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The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
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The Days of Abandonment

by Elena Ferrante

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English (20)  Dutch (3)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  All (25)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Not for me. Better for middle aged women readers. The beginning chapters hooked me. I read through it looking for some light, some hope. But it detailed chapter after chapter until the very end the disabling things that happened to her after her husband left her and her children. It was not until the final couple chapters did a faint light appear; and in the end, even that light promised little. ( )
  jack2410 | Feb 2, 2017 |
The first half of this is brilliant and the second half is so-so. ( )
  TimDel | Feb 2, 2017 |
I have been a fan of feminist literature for many years. One such author has eluded me until a recent article discussed the Italian writer, Elena Ferrante. My first actual encounter with Ferrante’s works occurred after a trip to the marvelous independent bookstore, Inkwood Books of Haddonfield, N.J. I asked the clerk about Ferrante, and she suggested the “Neopolitan Quartet” of novels, which was sold out, but she did have a copy of The Days of Abandonment. Across the street from the shop was a coffee bistro, so went for a coffee and a scan of the novel. About an hour later, I was hooked, and I accepted the fact this was a powerful novel I could not let pass by again.

William Congreve wrote, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned. Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned” (Congreve, The Mourning Bride, III, viii). Days of Abandonment tells the story of a woman abandoned by her husband, who then takes up with a young woman half the wife’s age. The novel begins, “One April afternoon, right after lunch, my husband announced that he wanted to leave me. He did it while we were clearing the table; the children were quarreling as usual in the next room, the dog was dreaming, growling beside the radiator. He told me that he was confused, that he was having terrible moments of weariness, of dissatisfaction, perhaps of cowardice. He talked for a long time about our fifteen years of marriage, about the children, and admitted that he had nothing to reproach us with, neither them nor me. He was composed, as always, apart from an extravagant gesture of his right hand when he explained to me, with a childish frown, that soft voices, a sort of whispering, were urging him elsewhere. Then he assumed the blame for everything that was happening and closed the front door carefully behind him, leaving me turned to stone beside the sink” This is nothing more than the tiniest of spark which will turn into a conflagration of immense power.

Warning this is an adult novel on the basis of a single chapter when Olga vented all her rage, jealousy, and fury, in a scene of a rather explicit and volcanic nature. A reader will know when it starts, so it is easy to skip. This novel is the most incisive and detailed account of the agony a woman undergoes when she is abandoned by her partner. The prose is mesmerizing and gripping. I could barely put it down for a moment. Here is a scene when Olga decides to seek revenge on her husband. “He again brought his lips to mine, but I didn’t like the odor of his saliva. I don’t even know if it really was unpleasant, only it seemed to me different from Mario’s. He tried to put his tongue in my mouth, I opened my lips a little, touched his tongue with mine. It was slightly rough, alive, it felt animal, an enormous tongue such as I had seen, disgusted, at the butcher, there was nothing seductively human about it. Did Carla have my tastes, my odors? Or had mine always been repellent to Mario, as now Carrano’s seemed, and only in her, after years, had he found the essences right for him” (80-81). You can now skip to page 88 and the beginning of Chapter 18.

In a blurb on the cover, a reviewer for The Guardian wrote, “Ferrante’s novels are tactile and sensual, visceral and dizzying.” Not for the faint of heart, The Days of Abandonment is a masterpiece of the inner workings of the mind of a woman. 5 stars.

--Jim, 12/31/16 ( )
  rmckeown | Jan 7, 2017 |
Dark, disturbing....
I got this title from a list stating if you liked Gone Girl, you should enjoy this one. I don't think they compare.
Some folks commented on the Italianess of the characters and I believe that is one reason this southern girl was so disturbed by the behavior of Mario, Olga, Gianni and Ilaria. Carrano, the cellist, to me was a victim.
The Saga begins with Mario walking out on Olga, his wife of fifteen years, and their two children. Olga appears to be blind sided by this.
Olga takes it hard. After all Mario has left her for a younger woman named Carla.
Mario literally just leaves, and does not even leave a contact address or number. He comes back to the apartment occasionally, but lives an entirely separate.
The story gets very painful when Olga, the children and dog become trapped inside the four walls of the apartment with no means of outside communication.
( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
Olga is a woman engulfed in the keening chaos of abandonment. Abruptly left by her husband of fifteen years, she tries to fend off the fraying ends of her sense of self while taking care of their children. Contrary to Olga's definite perception of "woman" as entity, of the type of woman she wants to be in all situations - the type of woman she has always wanted to be perceived as by her husband, even by herself, she becomes scorched and deluged in the aftermath of what has been broken.

Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment reads like a sustained note that collapses a lung. Its prose is dagger-headed, it punctures something vital along the way in both main character and reader. Olga's breaking roils in each sentence. This isn't an easy story to look away from.

Weirdly, I kept thinking of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl while I was reading this story. Namely that this was more of what I was looking for when I finally read Gone Girl after reading so many rapt and raving reviews of how Flynn was able to write an unlikable female main in such a revelatory way. Ferrante's Olga has an emotional relevance that entrenched me more firmly in this story than I was able to experience with GG.

Olga is an unreliable character, we don't get much past her perception of things and that perception is greatly weighted in a rending torrent of anger, grief, and fear. While the premise of her abandonment is one that many can relate to, many of her actions serve to make her extremely unlikable. I think there's two sides to her being unlikable actually though both play on the common perception of what a woman is allowed to be/to do. First, the emotional side; Ferrante does a very good job of layering in Olga's reactions. A woman consumed by anger or the derailment of grief, righteous or not, is often not palatable to the masses. Simply put, a woman emotionally consumed does not often bother herself with following the rules of "femininity," namely the rule that she is supposed to put herself forth in all things as an object to be consumed by other's purposes instead of her own. Secondly, the physicality of Olga's abandonment, of her anger, leads to bursts of vulgarity that also contradict the ideal of "woman." She speaks vulgarly when agitation breaks through, she beats their dog and fails to save him when he becomes mortally sick, she emotionally abandons her children and allows her anger to sway her ability or desire to nurture them, she instigates sex with a virtual stranger and is angry rather than accepting when he can't perform. I think there are a lot of people that would be able to see that yes, beating your dog and abandoning your responsibility to your children is horribly wrong. Yet there are way too many people out there that would eagerly say that each of these things is vulgar for the sole reason that she is a woman, that would insist on turning a blind eye or a bland excuse towards a man who reacted similarly. Which is why I found this to be pretty satisfying even when it was hard to read because I immensely enjoy reading work that allows woman to equal human without excuse or equivocation.

The Days of Abandonment holds the same flint and fire exhortation for me as The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Awakening by Kate Chopin did and continue to do. It's poignant while also simply being an interesting story in and of itself. I was so interested in what would happen that there were a couple brief points that stuttered for me, causing me to go back and reread parts. Past that however, Ferrante remains a strong and enjoyable writer for me. ( )
  lamotamant | Oct 9, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elena Ferranteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Goldstein, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One April afternoon, right after lunch, my husband announced that he wanted to leave me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Doggone! Husband gone;
But not dead, just strayed and lost;
Getting used to it.
(pickupsticks)

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Once an aspiring writer, Olga traded literary ambition for marriage and motherhood; when Mario dumps her after 15 years, she is utterly unprepared. Though she tells herself that she is a competent woman, nothing like the poverella (poor abandoned wife) that mothers whispered about in her childhood, Olga falls completely apart. Routine chores overwhelm her; she neglects her appearance and forgets her manners; she throws herself at the older musician downstairs; she sees the poverella's ghost. After months of self-pity, anger, doubt, fury, desperation and near madness, her acknowledgments of weaknesses in the marriage feel as earned as they are unsurprising.… (more)

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