The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante. Translated by Ann Goldstein

1. First lines. 2. Published 2015 Europa Editions; Text Publishing (First published in 2002 as “I giorni dell’abbandono“) 3. Wooden door [Public Domain] via Pikrepo 4. Depressed [Public Domain] via Pixabay

38-year-old Olga is shocked when her husband, Mario announces that he is leaving her. She utterly falls to pieces, and has difficulty getting through the days – looking after her two children and dog. One day, she finds herself locked in the apartment with her children and dog, with no one to help her, and this almost unhinges her completely.


“The circle of an empty day is brutal, and at night it tightens around your neck like a noose.”

“What a complex foamy mixture a couple is. Even if the relationship shatters and ends, it continues to act in secret pathways, it doesn’t die, it doesn’t want to die.”

“I took a pair of scissors and, for a whole long silent evening, cut out eyes, ears, legs, noses, hands of mine, of the children, of Mario. I pasted then onto a piece of drawing paper. The result was a single body of monstrous futuristic indecipherability, which I immediately threw in the garbage.”

“What a mistake, above all, it had been to believe that I couldn’t live without him.”

“I was not the woman who breaks into pieces under the blows of abandonment and absence, who goes mad, who dies. I was well. I was whole, whole I would remain.”

My opinion:

Too extreme for me. Very disappointing as I loved the Neapolitan series by the same author. To me, it just seemed overly exaggerated.

The opinion of others:
  • New York Times: “The novel, a best seller in the author’s native Italy (and translated capably here by Ann Goldstein), progresses in a predictable, even classic, order. Nevertheless, Ferrante makes her heroine a new and individual character in a well-worn story.”
  • The New Yorker: ““The Days of Abandonment” is Ferrante’s most widely read novel in English, with good reason. It assails bourgeois niceties and domestic proprieties; it rips the skin off the habitual.”
  • Financial Times: “Its opening lines — “One April afternoon, right after lunch, my husband announced that he wanted to leave me. He did it while we were clearing the table” — dragged her readers straight into the violent emotional catharsis that was to follow.”

Elena Ferrante

Other editions:


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