The Lying Life of Adults

Original Title:La vita bugiarda degli adulti
Published Date:1st Sep 2020
Publisher:Europa Editions
ISBN:9781609455910
Edition Language:English
Format:Hardcover
Number of Pages:336 Pages
Rating :
About Elena Ferrante
Elena Ferrante is a pseudonymous Italian novelist. Ferrante is the author of a half dozen novels, including The Lost Daughter (originally published as La figlia oscura, 2006). In 2012, Europa Editions began publication of English translations of Ferrante's "Neapolitan Novels," a series about two perceptive and intelligent girls from Naples who try to create lives for themselves within a violent and stultifying culture. Critics have praised her for her "devastating power as a novelist" and for a style that is "pleasingly rigorous and sharply forthright."Ferrante holds that "books, once they are written, have no need of their authors."On 10th March 2016, The Story of the Lost Child was longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International prize, celebrating the finest in global fiction translated to English.

The Lying Life of Adults Overview

Giovanna’s pretty face is changing, turning ugly, at least so her father thinks. Giovanna, he says, looks more like her Aunt Vittoria every day. But can it be true? Is she really changing? Is she turning into her Aunt Vittoria, a woman she hardly knows but whom her mother and father clearly despise? Surely there is a mirror somewhere in which she can see herself as she truly is.

Giovanna is searching for her reflection in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and Naples of the depths, a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves from one to the other in search of the truth, but neither city seems to offer answers or escape.

Named one of 2016’s most influential people by TIME Magazine and frequently touted as a future Nobel Prize-winner, Elena Ferrante has become one of the world’s most read and beloved writers. With this new novel about the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, Ferrante proves once again that she deserves her many accolades. In The Lying Life of Adults, readers will discover another gripping, highly addictive, and totally unforgettable Neapolitan story.

The Lying Life of Adults Reviews

  • Ferrante never fails. The Lying Life of Adults is her first standalone (and first work of published fiction) since her mega-hit Neapolitan Quartet. It's hard to follow-up such a critically acclaimed series but she's done it with a tightly crafted and gripping story in this new novel.Giovanna's father calls her ugly. But not only ugly—that her face is like that of his sister, Vittoria. That comparison, to a woman whom Giovanna knows her parents are less than fond of, in fact have nearly completely cut out of their life, sends her into an existential panic. As she's coming of age—the book begins when she is around twelve years old—she grapples with issues like romance, sex, puberty, friendships, and family through the socio-political lens of Naples. The higher parts of the city are where she finds refinement, but also delusion. Down below, in the darker, grittier neighborhoods, she finds filth, but authenticity. To which part of the city does Giovanna belong? And what will she discover about herself through this voyage into the city and beyond the walls of her home?As always, Ferrante's writing is fierce and Ann Goldstein's translation is effortless. This is definitely a character-driven story which succeeds precisely because the characters are so strong. Giovanna is the perfect character through which the reader gets to experience the story: she is malleable yet holds strong convictions; she is easily swooned but skeptical of traditional romantic roles and gender expectations; she simultaneously feeds into the cycles she so actively skewers with her sharp tongue and caustic wit.Perhaps the story itself is a bit slow. At times, even a bit redundant. But it's made up for with vividly imagined characters who jump off the page and probes themes that will resonate with readers across a wide spectrum. Ferrante fans will have something to love in this story, for sure, and it's one I am positive I will find myself returning to again in the future.
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  • DNF. Time of death: 60%. Guys. Guys. Guys. This one hurts my soul. I LOVED Elena Ferrante’s, “Neapolitan,” series with all my heart. Seriously. Just look at my review of one of those. I wrote one review for the whole series because it felt like one long book. I adored those books. Devoured all four in a row. I still think about the characters. I signed up for HBO again just to watch the adaptation. So perhaps my expectations were too high for this. Or it’s a case of it being me and not the book. Critic reviews have been positive. But I just couldn’t get into this one. And I really tried. 60% worth of trying. It’s almost unheard of for me to get over halfway through a book and not finish, even if I don’t like it. But as I opened it up today, I realized I truly didn’t care about a single character. The plot is almost nonexistent. Her writing was as lovely as ever, technically speaking, but it felt cold and dull. My heart couldn’t connect. And that is the difference between this one and the, “Neapolitan,” novels. Those were slice of life books as well. The plot in those was slow paced. But it worked with those because the characters popped out of the pages and the writing sparkled. I usually don’t rate books I DNF but I think 60% is far enough to earn a rating. I’m giving it two stars which I think is generous. I may come back and downgrade. I would still read another book from Ferrante without hesitation but I would set my expectations lower in the future.
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  • NO SPOILERSAudiobook....narrated by Marissa Tomei (Marissa was a ‘great’...reading this book). One audiobook reviewer said they thought Tomei ‘over-acted’ her reading. For me she enhanced the storytelling. Sooooooo.....???....A fan of the Neapolitan 4 book series? (Book 1, was my least favorite- by far— but the next 3 books were so darn juicy good- I wanted more).Overall, I loved the series. ....Enjoyed a few other stand alone Ferrante novels - but not all equally? That’s how it’s been for me. ....Curious about how this newly released novel measures up to past work by Elena Ferrante? I think it’s Elena’s best ‘stand-alone’ book to date. But....I'm left thinking about this book with a wide range of thoughts and feelings. Since I’m sure there are many professional reviews and other reviews sharing the plot and main storyline: I’m going to focus on my feelings and thoughts. First my feeling: .....HOLY SH*T! They are mixed. There was so much teenage angst — associated and entangled with her parents — then her aunt Vittoria— wanting and needing their approval desperately- becoming obsessed with her ‘Giovanna-ok-ness’ — ‘her beauty’ - ‘her worth’ - that it became a brain drain. Giovanna knew how to zap the energy out of me.I wanted to shake her and yell: “SHUT THE F#CK UP. FOCUS ON YOUR LIFE...MOVE ON....LEAVE THE ADULT PROBLEMS TO THEM. UNHOOK, ALREADY!”......ha...but then we might not have a story at all. Other feelings: ...... a few scenes were so verbally & visually unsettling....smelling like a dirty toilet ....I was a little creeped out. ......I admit being hooked following most of the perverted dialogue,......(brutally disgusting at times but honest), but when it was repeated - over and over - I felt irritated. (enough already). I felt this book was a combination of ‘page-turning gripping’ & window-book-tossing at the same time. Is that even possible? I guess I’m saying it feels like this is a masterfully written ‘love/hate’ novel. .....There wasn’t one cozy-warm-lovable character ....but I can’t deny this book drew me in. ..... I have more mixed feelings about the ending. Either a 2nd book is on its way....( Elena was much better in her 2nd book of the Neapolitan series so this could be the same - positive -pattern)....or.....we had a quick-stop unsatisfying abrupt ending. ( so deal with it).Thoughts: .....When I shared this book - naughty parts and all with Paul, including other spoilers ( one I didn’t see coming at all - but made this book more interesting), then told him that this is going to be a Netflix Original Series.....He said: “enjoy yourself”....he’d pass.My thoughts were - and still are - kinda defensive FOR this book.....It’s compelling. It’s well written. It’s reactivating. It’s petty, indulgent, a coming of age original, ...........but Elena is so damn talented at having us look at dark emotions straight on .... then sinks them in the deep water .... until finally we come up for air questioning... what the heck just happened? Exhausting... ( not negative...just fitting to the story itself), unsentimental...highly anticipated novel...it’s deep and multifaceted as love is.
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  • It’s good that you’re spending time with people who are better than you, it’s the only way to go up not down.The identity of the “neighbourhood” in Elena Ferrante’s epic Neopolitan Quartet was not explicitly mentioned in the novels but those who knew the city soon recognised the setting as the Rione Luzzatti district, even pinpointing the tunnel that plays a key role in the first part as Lila and Lenù attempt to escape the neighbourhood to the sea to one on the Via Emanuele Gianturco:Ferrante’s latest novel, beautifully translated by Ann Goldstein, is much more explicit as to location, creating a memorable evocation of early 1990s Naples, and enabling the google maps user (in these Covid-19 non-travel days) to literally follow in the characters’ footsteps. The novel begins:Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents, newly married, had bought at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri, in Rione Alto. Everything—the spaces of Naples, the blue light of a frigid February, those words—remained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing, nothing of my own, nothing that has really begun or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knot, and nobody, not even the one who at this moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption.The narrow street Via San Giacomo dei Capri rising to the Rione Alto area is our teenage narrator (the novel covers around four year from her aged 12 to just after her 16th birthday)., Giovanna’s father’s equivalent of the Lila and Lenù’s tunnel. Moving there, to the top of that hill, marls his escape from the Pascone district, and the Industrial Zone, where he was brought up (the depths of the depths of Naples), and where his family, particularly his sister still live, a place and a family he now repudiates. Indeed the opening words of the novel are actually Giovanna’s interpretation of her father comparing her bitterly to his sister, in an angry conversation with her mother, not meant to be overheard: All I could hear from my room was that she was giving him a summary of the teachers’ complaints, and I understood that she was bringing up as an excuse the changes of early adolescence. But he interrupted her, and in one of the tones that he never used with me—even giving in to dialect, which was completely banned in our house—let slip what he surely wouldn’t have wanted to come out of his mouth:“Adolescence has nothing to do with it: she’s getting the face of Vittoria.”I’m sure that if he’d known I could hear him he would never have used a tone so far removed from our usual playful ease. They both thought the door of my room was closed, I always closed it, and they didn’t realize that one of them had left it open. So it was that, at the age of twelve, I learned from my father’s voice, muffled by the effort to keep it low, that I was becoming like his sister, a woman in whom—I had heard him say as long as I could remember—ugliness and spite were combined to perfection.But this only prompts in Giovanna a desire to meet her aunt, to see if there is a resemblance, and using a street atlas, she works out the path that she could take to get there, something I’ve attempted to recreate using Google maps.(see https://i.ibb.co/WBcBJ5C/map3.jpg for a larger copy)Giovanni inevitably finds herself drawn to her aunt and her district, particularly when, as the opening lines of the novel and it's title rather hint, her parents' marriage proves to be built on a lie. Although the tension between raising herself (literally in the city, and figuratively) and lowering herself remains key to the story.Another wonderful novel from one of our finest writers. Intriguingly it ends on a note that would seem to leave space for a sequel(s), although this may be wishful thinking as the quartet was planned, and indeed written, as such all along, a single novel published in four parts. But I look forward to what Ferrante brings us next.4.5 stars
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  • When an author becomes one of your favorites, any new novel is an exercise in both excitement and anxiety. Will it be as good as the rest? Will your expectations be too high? I was nervous, I admit, especially since as years pass the Neapolitan Quartet has only become more beloved and singular in my mind. But I found relief very quickly, within just a few pages I was back with that unique, blunt prose of Ferrante's (with Ann Goldstein's translation), and back in the mind of a complicated female character. You can never really call any Ferrante novel a joy because they are about all the ways it is difficult to be a woman. There is not much joy in them. I wasn't sure I was excited about an adolescent protagonist, even though I have gone through it with Ferrante before, but what she wants to focus on here is part of growing up. This is a book about how you start to be repulsed by the same adults you have always loved deeply. It is about discovering that people are complicated and flawed and not the simple, kindhearted beings they try to convince you they are, especially when your'e a child. It is about coming into your own body, seeing yourself as an object. And it is, maybe more than anything else, about beauty. It is about how women's beauty is intertwined with their value, both for others and women themselves. How you present yourself to the world and how it validates or contrasts with what you are underneath. It is beauty as approval and the ways one can reject both that approval and beauty itself. The way Ferrante works in her themes is fascinating. She is not subtle about them, but she never comments on them even though her characters can consider some of their thoughts in great detail. There are plenty of tangible symbols in this book that stand in for the shifting feelings of the characters, to show us how they feel and where their allegiances lie. There is also, as you probably expect, a lot on class. Although Giovanna, our protagonist, is the child of two teachers, well brought up and with a very different background than Elena, she discovers early on that her father's family was lower class and she is compelled throughout the book to move between the two classes even as she is often totally unaware of the ease and privilege she has. Giovanna's feelings towards every character in the book change almost constantly. Her teenagers are so accurate, so volatile, so reactive. The slightest thing sends them careening in the opposite direction. That love and hate, the stirring of conflicting passions, the way Giovanna never needs to explain or examine these sudden shifts are so true to the age and make you remember not just how it feels to be a teenager on the inside but how inexplicable all of it looks from the outside.It was very nice to give myself over to this book for a few days, even if it stirs up so many thoughts and emotions around gender, sexuality, family, class, and just about everything else. If you've read Ferrante before, you already know to expect uncomfortable scenes, specifically around sex. This is certainly less violent than the Neapolitan novels and while there is a lot of sexual activity that characters do not particularly want, it is more of persuasion and curiosity than coercion. This novel fits in well with Ferrante's work, it has many of the themes she comes back to over and over, but in a new setting with new characters that give them new life.
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  • Full Review: If The Lying Life of Adults, the marvelous new novel by the pseudonymous Elena Ferrante, doesn’t reach the soaring heights of her masterpiece, The Story of a New Name, that is mainly an issue of the Ferrantean accumulation—deep networks of supporting characters, all with rich inner lives—being limited by the confines of a mere 320 pages. With Ferrante, as with Tolstoy, there is always the implication of a few dozen extra chapters, known only to her...Continue Reading on Guernica Mag: https://www.guernicamag.com/objects-o...
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  • I have read all the Neapolitan novels and others by Elena Ferrante. She is a story teller. She creates a story out of nothing. I read it in Italian which is not even my first language but loved it. So very well written.
  • This book reminded me of those movies where the main actor/actress basically play the same character in every movie. Ferrante wanted (or not?) to recreate or really to continue the success of the Neapolitan novels. While the first books were so and so, this one is only a poor version of the Neapolitan story. The same girl with the same tumultuous interior life. This time she's intellectual and rich. The writing seemed forced as if the author forced too much to make words appear on the page.
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  • Oh, with such anxiety I breeched these pages! How does one follow up the 1700 pages of the Neapolitan Quartet? “The Lying Life of Adults,” at 300 pages, is substantially meatier than her earlier novels, but to burden it with life-changing expectations is likely a disservice. The chapters are short and continuous and I paused often; I dipped my toes each time to be sure that I wasn’t reading too quickly or too intensely. Who knows when we will see another novel from Elena Ferrante?I remember the first time I ever saw a woman breast feed. I was still a child myself, the youngest in my family, and witnessing the public removal of a breast and placing a child’s mouth upon a nipple betrayed the rules of the world I understood. I would soon learn that the act was natural and innocent, but it signified adult acts that had already begun to scandalize my young mind. Like Ferrante’s Giovanna, the complexity of these relationships emotionally, sensually, and sexually were impossible to comprehend at that age but refracted through me nonetheless. Complexities that, like shoes that must be stood in, take a lifetime to unravel no matter how hard we push.
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  • DNF, too dark, too sad, too sick. How to destroy a childhood and create neurotic young adults.
  • Hey, Queen! Girl, you have done it again, constantly raising the bar for us all and doing it flawlessly. I’d say I’m surprised but I know who you are. I’ve seen it up close and personal. Girl, you make me so proud, and I love you.
  • What happened in the world of adults, in the heads of very reasonable people, in their bodies loaded with knowledge? What reduced them to the most untrustworthy animals, worse than reptiles? For anyone who has read Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, The Lying Life of Adults will be a return to familiar territory – the Naples setting, the examination of class and culture, the fascinating conversations and thoughts that explore feminine interiority – and for anyone who was beguiled by those earlier works, as I certainly was, this is a return to that pure literary magic. I have a hard time articulating what it is that Ferrante gets so right but you can just feel that she breathes life into her pages; there's a thrumming heartbeat with which my own pulse echoes; I recognise and believe every word she writes. Magic. (Thanks to NetGalley for my ARC; passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents, newly married, had bought in Rione Alto, at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri. Everything – the spaces of Naples, the blue light of a very cold February, those words – remained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing, nothing of my own, nothing that has really begun or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knot, and nobody, not even the one who at this moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption. As the book opens, Giovanna is thirteen years old – living in the middle class upper city of Naples in the 1990s, the only child of two loving, sophisticated, and educated parents – and when we first meet her, she's certainly still a child (sitting on her parents' laps, playful and obedient as a puppy), but as the story progresses, we watch as Giovanna grows from full child (believing her parents to be perfect and wanting to live under their protection), to starting to rebel (still a child but pushing back against her parents while hoping that they'll maintain their illusion of perfection), to becoming a full adult at sixteen (mature in mind and body and no longer in need of her parents' protective narrative; ready to start writing her own). And the impetus for all this growth? Giovanna overhears her father whisper to her mother that if their daughter wasn't careful, she'd end up with the ugly face of his sister Vittoria. As Giovanna's father was estranged from his birth family, and she couldn't remember ever meeting this Vittoria, Giovanna insists on meeting her now; and despite his warnings that Vittoria was a mean and dangerous manipulator, he agrees to arrange the meeting. Driving down to the working class lower city of Naples for the first time, Giovanna was fascinated and repulsed to learn that her father grew up on these crowded, narrow streets, and when she meets with Vittoria, her aunt warns that it's Giovanna's father who is the manipulator – a cruel and money-grubbing charlatan whose sophisticated demeanor is all pomp and pretense. Giovanna was transfixed by this aunt – with her ugly beauty that Giovanna could recognise as her own fate, her foul mouth, her hot temper and rough friends – and as their relationship continues, Giovanna can't help but question what is authentic reality and what is illusion in the lying life of adults. I was learning to hide from my parents what was happening to me. Or, rather, I perfected my method of lying by telling the truth. Naturally I didn't do it lightly, it pained me. When I was at home and heard them moving about the rooms with the familiar footsteps that I loved, when we had breakfast together, had lunch, dinner, my love for them prevailed, I was always on the point of crying: Papa, Mamma, you're right, Vittoria hates you, she's vengeful, she wants to take me away from you to hurt you, hold on to me, forbid me to see her. But as soon as they started with their hypercorrect sentences, with those controlled tones of theirs, as if every word concealed others, truer, from which they excluded me, I secretly called Vittoria, I made dates. There may not be anything particularly groundbreaking about a coming-of-age novel in itself, but the grit and candour of Giovanna's experience, while not my own exact experience, felt entirely truthful and relatable. And as with her earlier Neapolitan Novels, I was totally intrigued with Ferrante's exploration of Naples – the high and the low – and with a sidetrip to the university in Milan, we once again are privy to some interesting intellectual discussions that further explore the culture's prevailing ethos. Once again, magic – if this turns into another quartet of books, I'd be well pleased.
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  • Poor story, filled with negativity and ugliness. Characters, themes, dynamics and setting are an empty copy of previous books. Bad reading, totally not recommended.
  • ★★★✰✰ 3 stars (mini-Italian review at the end) “L'amore è opaco come i vetri delle finestre dei cessi.”(I'm no Ann Goldstein but the above quote can be roughly translated to: “Love is as opaque as the windows of a shit-house”).In this latest novel by Elena Ferrante, La Vita Bugiarda degli Adulti (or The Lying Life of Adults in its English translation) we are confronted with a narrative that challenges the myth of happy family (in altre parole il mito della 'famiglia del mulino bianco'). The novel opens in what could be regarded as the story’s ‘inciting incident’, one that sets off our protagonist on a fraught journey from childhood to adulthood. Set in Naples during the nineties, the very first line of La Vita Bugiarda degli Adulti informs that: “Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly” (“Due anni prima di andarsene mio padre disse a mia madre che ero molto brutta”). Our narrator, Giovanna, remembers with painful clarity the effect that these overheard words had on her at the age of twelve. Once heard, they could not be unheard. It is perhaps because this word, ‘ugly’, is uttered by her loving father—a father who used to tell her of how gorgeous (‘bella’) she was—that it has such devastating consequences. Giovanna, the daughter of two well-educated teachers, who mainly move in intellectual circles and appear to be well-adjusted in life, begins to see her parents through a new lens. Her parents are not part of an invincible and united entity whose main purpose in life is her happiness and wellbeing. Once Giovanna begins to see these ‘cracks’ in their marriage and in their parenting, she begins to resent them for their lies. The word ‘ugly’, her newfound awareness of her parents’ and other peoples’ lies, weigh heavily upon her, so much so that her life seems to take a downward spiral.A key player in Giovanna's fracture from her parents is her father's estranged sister, Aunt Vittoria. When Giovanna starts questioning why she has never met her father's side of family she unearths a decades old feud between her father and Vittoria. In many ways it is discovering that her father 'cut off' Vittoria from his existence deeply perturbs Giovanna. However, as she begins to spend more and more time with Vittoria, she seems to experience some odd sense of satisfaction from the possibility of angering her parents or of damaging their image of her. The more her parents stress Vittoria's 'ugly' personality, the more Giovanna feels compelled to imitate her, modulating her behaviour in a way that makes her rather misanthropic. Vittoria's way of existence seems to Giovanna to be diametrically different to the other adults in her life. Unlike her parents and their acquaintances, Vittoria lives in what many consider to be a disreputable area, she gets by working 'menial' jobs, she speaks in a strong dialect, and she's frequently blunt to the point of vulgarity. Vittoria's mercurial personality, her propensity to hold a grudge, and her endless tirades, reminded me a lot of another anti-intellectual, Emerence from Magda Szabó's The Door (their only difference seems to be that Vittoria is religious). Vittoria seems to plant a seed of doubt in her niece's mind. Is Giovanna's father the mean spirited man Vittoria makes him out to be? Is he lying to Giovanna? Is everything he told her a lie ? Giovanna's identity crisis is dominated by an almost pathological self-hatred. She obsessively checks her face and body, looking for traces of Vittoria's 'uglyness' in herself. Later on she seems almost elated in discovering the ability to say things to hurt others and finds some sort of power in discovering that a lot of older boys find her biting words and those physical attributes she herself hates to be enticing. This novel focuses on the way in which Giovanna's teenage years are clouded by bitterness and a general ill-feeling. Her parents, like many other parents, seem to believe that as long as she does well in school, she is fine. Giovanna however has no wish to keep adults' pretences of happiness, politeness, and decency. She wants to denigrate others as well as herself, she wants to hurt and lie to other people.Giovanna would not be out of place in a novel by Ottessa Moshfegh. She is egocentric, morbid, and deeply alienated. She is bored by her peers and sick of her parents' falsities. And while it is clear that she wishes to be an adult, her self-hatred and deep-seated insecurity do not really allow her to mature. More than once readers might find her rage and unhealthy behaviours as signs of adolescent angst. Giovanna however takes herself very seriously: small gestures and or words uttered in distraction can, and often will, have a debilitating effect on her.While I was reading this novel Ferrante's writing reminded me more than once of Gustave Flaubert. Their proses give the impression of having being laboured over: each word seems to have been especially chosen and placed in the right position. Also, this novel's opening lines (where Giovanna overhears her father saying that she's ugly) seem Madame Bovary : “How strange,” thought Emma. “The child is so ugly!” (for those who are wondering, the child in question is Emma's own daughter). I wasn't surprised to discover that Ferrante's La frantumaglia mentions this passage: “Now I read Flaubert’s letters, his other books. Every sentence was well shaped, some more than others, but not one—not one ever had for me the devastating force of that mother’s thought: C’est une chose étrange comme cette enfant est laide! ”Time and again the narrator returns to these words. Her fear of being ugly, that is of having a disagreeable if not bad personality, plagues her during her teenager years. While at times Ferrante could be a bit tedious (especially when we read how many times Giovanna feels or believes herself to be horrible) I was somewhat fascinated by her narrator's self-loathing diatribes. Ferrante manages to depict the way in which Giovanna is affected by each one of her negative emotions or thoughts, paying incredible attention to the nuances that accompany these complex feelings. Giovanna often feels many things all at once. Her self-hatred is often accompanied by a sense of self-satisfaction; when she speaks cruel words to her mother she feels both empowered and vaguely disgusted. Ferrante is almost meticulous in the way she identifies and describes Giovanna's various states of mind. Her Italian is simply captivating and I often found myself in awe of her word choices, her use of repetition, alliteration, and specific tenses. The fluidity of her writing distracted me from Giovanna's overwhelmingly negative worldview. Still, I can't say that Ferrante's writing completely makes up for her rather uneventful story. Giovanna seems to go into frenzies over the smallest things. While most readers are aware that teenagers often tend to 'magnify' certain events, they might find Giovanna's tendency to think and feel in extremes and her perpetual state of self-torment to be rather testing. And while Ferrante's writing is strikingly ambivalent, eloquently crisp, simultaneously expressive and subtle , there were certain passages that seemed rather self-indulgent. While for the most part Giovanna's exploration of her sexuality struck me for its realism, the way in which she describes male bodies seemed unnecessarily apathetic. Ferrante has the tendency to describes male genitalia as if it was an abstract sculpture. Giovanna never uses the more common Italian word for penis (or vagina for that matter) resorting instead to old-fashioned terms (the story is set in the nineties, not the fifties). This is a rather heavy going novel. Our main character spends most of the narrative hating herself or others. The bitterness, loathing, repugnance, and envy experienced by Giovanna, as well as her solipsism, her growing aversion towards her parents, her general ill-disposition, and her frequent lapses into bouts of truculence, make her rather hard-going, if not downright unsympathetic, character. While Ferrante is precise when she articulates these painful and disruptive teenage years, her characters could have been more fleshed out (they all seem to play the one role in Giovanna's life: the parents are liars, Vittoria is chaotic). Still, if you are interested in reading of a realistic passage into adulthood and/or you are a Ferrante devotee you might find La Vita Bugiarda degli Adulti to be a deeply compelling read. Giovanna's narrative is simmering with barely concealed rage: towards our parents' lies, their expectations, their hypocrisy, their falsehoods, and their very vulnerability.Ferrante is unflinching in her portrayal of Giovanna's early adolescence and provides a context to her existential malaise and fury. Through her incisive prose she chronicles Giovanna's despair, her paranoia, her crippling self-loathing, her despair (over her changing body and her family's circumstances), and her obscure, wilful, and frankly perplexing states of minds. As Giovanna becomes aware of her own limitations and of her own misperceptions, she seeks to protect herself by embracing a more ephemeral existence. The ending of this novel is almost jarring and does not feel as cathartic as Ferrante seems to imply it is. Nevertheless I probably would pick up another novel by Ferrante. Due righe in italiano:Premettendo che il mio italiano ormai è stato anglicizzato (insomma, si è arrugginito) volevo esprimere un attimo il mio parere riguardo La Vita Bugiarda degli Adulti. Ferrante è una scrittrice eccezionale, su questo non ci sono dubbi. Ammiro davvero il suo modo di scrivere, i termini che usa (come e dove li usa). Purtroppo i suoi personaggi erano eccessivamente sgradevoli. I ragazzi, con l'eccezione di Roberto, erano tutti uguali (capisco che ci sono gli ormoni in balla ma potevano avere delle personalità un poco più complesse). I genitori di Giovanna e zia Vittoria finiscono ai margini della storia. Roberto e la sua ragazza erano blandi. Giovanna mi ha dato abbastanza sui nervi (nella sua testa si sussegue una smania dopo l'altra).Anche se la Ferrante tratta temi un pò deprimenti, scrive in una maniera così magnetica e scorrevole, che diventa facile perdersi nelle sue righe.Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
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  • Fleabag
  • RECENSIONE ITALIANA IN FONDO😉I have just closed the book and I feel inside a whirlwind of feelings and emotions...... unfortunately not all positive, in fact, what predominates most here, is this sense of toxicity. The relationships we will find here narrated, are blindfolded by this sense of suffocation and poison. Giovanna is growing up in this ambiguous, disguised and intoxicated family of fiction, untruth and tenderness... but where can she find herself if all that her heart seeks is only satisfaction of the instinctive need and disguise of sin?The desire to know Victoria, the aunt so much hated by her parents, will only plunge her into a sick reality, of events steeped in relational bipolarity.All the characters we will know and will have for Giannina( Giovanna), roles always different and conditioned by the events of the moment, live also themselves nailed by a fragmented reality of events, stratified of circumstances used as in a "theater of fiction".Margherita, Angela, Ida, Mariano,Costanza,Giuliana,Corrado,Tonino..... they will move around the life of Giannina nailed by an ever-ending look at themself, at the meager gain that is of affection, morals or relationship of the moment, of the circumstance...This is the feeling of toxicity that I experienced during the reading, where the hope of a healthy look of good, of respectful tenderness cannot exist for this humanity that we will know.I thought that the word" lie" was the center of all this story, rather than lie or mask.... what came to my mind and corresponded better was the word" sin" or" iniquity". A river of pain and relationships vitiated by conjectures of thought always based on the instant satisfaction of the moment, the discomfort of not controlling the others, the condition not gone as expected.A vastness of concealment of the "ME" and sin, extra-marital relationships, of bad friendships and relationships, of control over the destiny of those around us. Wow, How this poor Giovanna could ever grow up, esteem and look loving her parents as she looked at them as she was a child?In all this narration one thing is always missing , the absence of Forgiveness and Mercy; also the encounter with Roberto, perhaps the only solar and positive character in the narration, which introduces Giannina to an opaque concept of God, He too, is swallowed up by this living satisfying impulses and circumstances of the moment.God, who appears, yes, for a moment, but soon forgotten within the gospel books of Andrea, father of Giannina, who will give them to his daughter.Perhaps in the end it will come to a grain of good embrace between Victoria ( the evil aunt) and her brother Andrea (Giannina's father), but always conditioned by a convenience for a better job for her sister.Giannina will live this continuum of emotions and pain day after day, in continuous mutation almost from an hour to the next one.But, is it always sin and lies that determine my life? Is it evil sin that has the last word on my destiny? In the last page Giovanna will leave for Venice, and so the novel is closed... and I found myself saying, "What is your truth Giovanna?.. I really hope you know what you’re running from, and what you’re looking for..."POST SCRIPTUM: in these hours, from the moment i put this review on GR, i received many messages asking me if this book will worth the reading or is kind depressing as the other two books of her i cited down in the under messages. Well... yes, a book always deserves to be read, you must create your own opinion about, this is mine and it could be completely opposite or wrong for your point of view😉.About the future english translation: I have no idea about the translation that Madame Goldstein will donate to you, so curious about it!! there are many mixed italian/dialect concepts, words, phrases so difficult for us italian to uderstand perfectly in on sight that i have no clue how she will translate and let you understand fully the meaning!! I am sure she will create a perfect english version as she has been able to do for all the Neapolitan novels!Henri Matisse, Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg Ho appena chiuso il libro e mi sento dentro a un turbinio di sensazioni ed emozioni...... purtroppo non tutte positive, anzi, quello che predomina di piu' è questo senso di tossicità. Le relazioni che troveremo qui narrate sono bendate da questo senso di soffocamento e veleno. Giovanna e il suo crescere in questa famiglia ambigua, mascherata e intossicata di finzione, la troveremo alle prese con il desiderio struggente di amore, verità e tenerezza...... ma dove mai potrà trovarlo se tutto quello che cerca il suo cuore è solo appagamento del bisogno istintivo e camuffamento del peccato?Il desiderio di conoscere Vittoria, la zia tanto odiata dai suoi genitori, non farà altro che farla piombare in una realtà malata, di eventi intrisi di bipolarità relazionale.Tutti i personaggi che conosceremo e avranno per Giannina( Giovanna) ruoli sempre diversi e condizionati dagli eventi del momento, vivono anche loro inchiodati da una realtà frammentata di eventi, stratificata di circostanze utilizzate come in un teatro della finzione.Margherita, Angela, Ida, Mariano,Costanza,Giuliana,Corrado,Tonino..... si muoveranno intorno alla vita di Giovanna inchiodati da uno sguardo sempre fine a se stesso, al guadagno misero che sia di affetto, morale o relazione del momento, della circostanza...E' questa la sensazione di tossicità che ho vissuto durante la lettura, dove la speranza di uno sguardo sano di bene, di tenerezza rispettosa non può esistere per questa umanità che conosceremo.Riflettevo che la parola bugia fosse il centro di tutto questo racconto, più che bugia o maschera.....ciò che mi veniva in mente e mi corrispondeva meglio era la parola peccato e iniquità. Un fiume di dolore e relazioni viziate da congetture di pensiero sempre basate sulla soddisfazione istantanea del momento, del fastidio del non controllo sull'altro, della condizione non andata come si aspettava.Una vastità di nascondimento dell' IO e peccato, relazioni extra matrimoniali, di amicizie e relazioni malate, di controllo sul destino di chi ci sta accanto. Caspita, ma sta povera Giovanna come avrebbe mai potuto crescere,stimare e guardare amando i propri genitori come li guardava da bambina?In tutto questo narrare manca sempre una cosa , l'assenza di Perdono e di Misericordia; anche l'incontro con Roberto, forse unico personaggio solare e pieno di positività nel vivere, che introduce Giannina ad un opaco concetto di Dio, viene fagocitato anche lui da questo vivere soddisfando impulsi e circostanze del momento. Dio, che appare sì, per un momento, ma ben presto dimenticato dentro ai vangeli di Andrea, papà di Giannina che li regalerà alla figlia...Forse alla fine si arriverà a un granellino di abbraccio di bene tra Vittoria e suo fratello Andrea, ma sempre condizionato da una convenienza per un lavoro migliore per la sorella.Giovanna vivrà questo continuum di emozioni e dolori giorno dopo giorno, in continua mutazione quasi da un'ora all'altra;,...Ma è sempre il peccato e la bugia a determinare la mia vita? E' il male e la malvagità ad avere l'ultima parola sul mio destino? Nell'ultima pagina Giovanna partirà per Venezia, e così si chiude il romanzo... e io mi sono ritrovata a dire, " Qual'è la tua verità Giovanna?.. spero tanto tu sappia da cosa stai scappano, e cosa cerchi..."
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