Top positive review
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"Amalia had the unpredictability of a splinter. I couldn't impose on her the prison of a single adjective."
on 2 October 2006
This intense psychological novel, recently translated into English, recreates a daughter's efforts to understand her mother following her mother's mysterious death. Delia, an artist of comic strips, receives three strange phone calls from her mother just before her mother disappears on her way from Naples to Rome to visit Delia. When the body of Amalia, Delia's mother, is ultimately discovered floating near a beach, she is nude, except for a piece of designer underwear, not typical for her mother. Though she has never been close to her mother, Delia is understandably curious about the circumstances of her death, and she leaves Rome to investigate her mother's life in Naples.
Author Elena Ferrante, a pen name used by one of Italy's foremost (and most private) contemporary authors, creates haunting mysteries from the lives of ordinary people leading seemingly ordinary lives--the kinds of mysteries which always exist for family members who can never quite get inside the lives and relationships of people they think they know but whose intimate lives they have not shared. Gradually, Delia begins to realize she may be more her mother's daughter than she had realized. Dense with imagery which speaks directly to the reader's own sensibilities about family, this emotional and introspective novel is also full of ambiguities which resonate long after some of the mysteries have been solved.