Elena Ferrante is amongst the most prominent contemporary Italian authors, however she is almost a phantom since no one really knows who she is. Her personality is clouded with mystery as she refuses to reveal who she is, standing behind the statement that “books, once they are written, have no need of their authors”( James Wood, The New Yorker – January 29, 2013 ). Her works, however, posses the charming force of a very refined and elegant literature.
“The Days of the Abandonment” took my breath away. This is a book that could make you ill.
Ferrante has relied on a very classical scenario – a husband abandons his wife and children for a younger lover. The triangle is a simple geometric figure, but when its shape is drafted in a love relationship, its complexity takes boundless dimensions.
Of course, such a storyline sound rather banal, threadbare and tedious, however once you start reading you would become astonished by the depth and originality of the novel.
Olga is 38-years-old, married with two children – a woman devoted on her family and domestic work, while one day, at the very first sentence of the book, her harmonic world cracks under the demonic impact of the departing husband.
The portrait of a caring and loving wife at once diminishes and what comes instead is the repulsive and vulgar shadow of the abandoned woman. Olga lands in a vicious psychological labyrinth, where the accepted in the society moral virtues are deprived of any value.
Ferrante is merciless to the protagonist, she gives her a slap after a slap, she hurls her at a corner and strips slowly every layer of her tortured soul. The tone of the novel is bold, sharp and rigid. There are moments, where you would want to shout at Olga, to shake her off her thoughts and rescue her, however the author keeps digging in the wound until she reaches the bottom – the emptiness. Ferrante emphasizes on the matter of how frightening fragile is the woman’s soul and provides to the reader the psychological aspect of living through the abandonment. She reveals depths which not many of us have reached, but she doesn’t let you agonize in despair because salvation always lurks somewhere out there.
The scattered in the novel debris of one completely broken marriage demonstrate how elastic woman’s psyche could be – although the hardship, it will never break – it will only bend.