Elena Ferrante (Marcello Lino translator) – 2008
I first watched the movie based on this book, then, understanding little of the movie, decided to read the book for enlightenment.
This is the story of Leda, a mother of adult children who wasn’t really cut out for motherhood; while on holiday, she meets a young mother and becomes involved in a small part of that mother’s life. In the movie there is a sense of simmering menace emanating from this young woman and her extended family, but I got less of that from the book. We learn about Leda’s own experience as a mother through flashback scenes in both the movie and the book.
I rated this book at 2 stars. The story arc is long, flat, and tedious in book and movie; the only difference is that I didn’t have to deal with mumbled dialogue while reading the book. Others on Goodreads rated the book at an average of 4 stars. It’s not that the writing is necessarily bad; the vehicle just didn’t work for me. If this had been shortened and presented as a character sketch instead of a full-length novel I would have appreciated it more.
Does it have value? Yes; I appreciated the honest, unapologetic depiction of a mother who struggled with motherhood. I might have rated the book more highly if I had read it before watching the movie. I was able to read the book on Scribd.
By the way – I don’t like this book cover at all. It depicts a doll that belongs to the daughter of Nina, the young mother whom Leda befriends.