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The Lost Daughter Paperback – 14 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (14 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372426
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.1 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. She is the author of The Days of Abandonment, which the NewYork Times called "stunning", Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter and the critically acclaimed Neopolitan Novels, which include My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child, published in September 2015. Though one of Italy's most important contemporary authors, she has successfully shunned public attention and kept her true identity concealed.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 July 2015
Format: Paperback
“Life can have an ironic geometry. Starting from the age of thirteen or fourteen I had aspired to a bourgeois decorum, proper Italian, a good life, cultured and reflective. Naples had seemed a wave that would drown me. I didn’t think the city could contain life forms different from those I had known as a child, violent or sensually lazy, tinged with sentimental vulgarity or obtusely fortified in defense of their own wretched degradation”

The Lost Daughter is the third novel by Italian author, Elena Ferrante. An English professor in Florence, 47-year-old Leda takes a summer vacation on the coast. She is divorced, and her two adult daughters live in Canada with their father. On the beach, she encounters an extended Neapolitan family that reminds her of her own childhood, her youth and the life choices she made: “In the first year of Marta’s life I discovered I no longer loved my husband. A hard year, the baby barely slept and wouldn’t let me sleep. Physical tiredness is a great magnifying glass…..Love requires energy, I had none left”.

About her own mother, Leda says “I suspected that she had begun to flee the moment she had me in her womb, even though as I grew up, everyone said that I resembled her. There were resemblances, but they seemed to me faded. Not even when I discovered that I was attractive to men was I appeased. She emanated a vital warmth, whereas I felt cold, as if I had veins of metal……I wanted to be like her in the capacity she had to expand and become essence on the streets, in the subway or the funicular, in the shops, under the eyes of strangers. No instrument of reproduction can capture that enchanted aura.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S Woolley on 7 Feb. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Leda, a seemingly educated stylish Italian woman , takes a summer break from her solitary university career. Within a few weeks, she faces her own history, her life decisions and the impact those had on herself and her family, while watching another mother on the edge. Inadvertently, Leda is brutally honest in confronting herself for the first time: a brilliant account of a woman who did what many dream off, who is honest yet sensitive and who is still a mystery to herself.
A tale of `what might be` in seductive language and a psychological case study for anyone willing to enter into painfully awakened self examination- brilliant and a great read!
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By ms t darmudas on 8 Jun. 2015
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 46 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.5/5 stars - the dark side of motherhood 21 Aug. 2011
By My2Cents - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 felt light, as if only then had I definitively brought them into the world. For the first time in almost twenty-five years I was not aware of the anxiety of having to take care of them. The house was neat, as if no one lived there, I no longer had the constant bother of shopping and doing the laundry, the woman who for years had helped with the household chores found a better paying job, and I felt no need to replace her."

It's summer and since she is feeling happy about her new freedom, Leda decides to rent a beach house for six weeks, on the Ionian coast, near Naples. She packs her books and lesson plans for the coming school year and is planning to relax by lounging on the beach by day.

Early on she becomes fascinated by the interactions of an attractive young mother named Nina, and her young daughter, Elena. She also intently watches little Elena's interactions with her doll, which the girl calls by several different names. Several other family members visit the family on the beach as well. One day Leda notices the child by the waters edge, so she returns her to her mother who was lying on the beach blanket and hadn't noticed the child had wandered to the water. Another day when the family leaves the beach for the day, Leda notices that Elena's beloved doll was left buried in the sand. This incident upsets Leda, and suddenly this event, along with the interactions of mother and child, opens a floodgate of memories for Leda of her own days as a young mother. Some of the incidents which she recalls of things she did, and ways she reacted to her own daughters --were cringe-worthy.

This brief novella, just 124 pages, is sure to evoke emotions among readers, especially mothers. Narrated in the first person, this deep journey into a mother's psyche, gives the reader plenty to think about. Marriage, motherhood, personal freedom, sacrifice and career fulfillment are some of the conflicting issues that surface in this work.

Initially, I thought I might have a problem with the flow of the story due to the translation, but that was not the case. Once I got into the rhythm and into what was going on in Leda's head, I was hooked. I liked this one a lot, and would definitely recommend it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Dark Side of Maternal Instinct 21 Feb. 2013
By Ann L. Bellissimo - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bright lights cause dark shadows and this book takes on the light of motherhood and its corresponding darker aspects. It is not a crime thriller where the children--grown and young--are in danger, It is a look into the psychology of a woman who never made peace with the sacrifice required by motherhood, but who needed the experience and her children for sanity. When her daughters left home---this is a very female, womanly book but not girlie--old issues started to crop up. The psychology rings true and the ending is surprising. Although this author has never been seen in public and there are rumors of various famous authors who may be writing under an alias, I will be surprised if a man has written this book. It is an easy read and I plan to read everything by this author.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant in its honesty and forthright prose style 1 Mar. 2013
By tintintoo - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One almost never finds women authors who have the wherewithal to speak honestly about motherhood, the difficult choices women (esp. women intellectuals) face in society, and other issues surrounding female identity in this supposedly "post-feminist" age. I can think of no contemporary American woman writer who is as unsparingly honest and courageous in their writing as Ferrante is in hers.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Short. Pitch-perfect. Disturbing. 15 May 2011
By Jesse Kornbluth - Published on
Format: Paperback
It's a simple story, told by the main character. Leda is 47, divorced, an academic, mother of daughters who are now in their 20s and live in Canada with their father. She rents an apartment for a month in an Italian beach resort. She has no lover, she's completely alone. And so she falls into the habit of going to the same stretch of beach every day.

You know how it is when you're a stranger in a strange town? You make up stories about the people you see. Leda does this with a woman and her child who also spend their days at the beach. They're lined up like planets --- Leda, the "bad" mother, then the mother who "seemed to have no desire for anything but her child," and then the little girl, so secure in her mother's love that she gives all her attention to an old doll.

One day, the little girl gets lost. Leda --- who, as we know, long ago, lost her connection to her own kids --- finds her. And now the plot starts to circle itself, and tighten, forcing Leda to remember more of her own story. (To buy the book from Amazon, click here.)

On page two, Leda says that "the hardest things to talk about are the ones we ourselves can't understand." For her, that's abandoning her daughters, all those years ago. Her first explanation, to the mother on the beach: "Sometimes you have to escape in order not to die."

Believe that at your peril. There's much more. But what's compelling is how little it takes to lose your bearings --- a small burst of attention, modest encouragement, a bout of illicit sex. The next thing you know, you're a stranger to yourself, you're a foreigner in your own body. The scene when Leda leaves her kids --- it's not wrenching like "Kramer vs. Kramer," it's one matter-of-fact paragraph. In its way, that's more wrenching.

Which is not to say that this is a story by a woman who can do nothing but watch and think. Something happens midway through. It's simple, trivial, blatantly symbolic --- it's so obvious you grimace. Why is that? Because you haven't abandoned a child. And you never would.

So it is the astonishing triumph of this simple, short (125 page) novel that, slowly, you come to identify with a woman who has done the unthinkable. And, in the aftermath, you feel a bit unhinged.

"I had left my husband and my daughters at a moment when I was sure I had the right, was in the right," Leda says near the end of the novel. And as if you've been in the sun at the beach all day and have just returned to the shade and a breeze and a cool drink, you blink --- because you're just not sure if that would be your final answer. And, if it would be, what that says about you.

What a beautiful, disturbing, thought-provoking book.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
excellent fiction 2 July 2009
By Mansi Poddar, psychotherapist - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a short novel. The prose is tight, clean and lacks any frivolous detail that does not add to the story. The writing reflects the characters voices and internal dialogue effectively. A young woman delves into her past as a mother and daughter, brining up painful, guilt-ridden memories. She comes across a mother daughter duo, at the beach where she is vacationing, who remind her of herself and what she feels is the 'ideal.' an interesting novel that explores being a mother, daughter and societal expectations of both. the characters conflict is clearly reflected and this book is most human. it has dimension and the characters incite emotion in the reader. you will be left pondering the themes long after you have finished reading.
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