The Days of Abandonment

Elena Ferrante     Recommended by Pema Monaghan    


The Days of Abandonment is a brilliant novel. It is quite short, and all the more gutting for it. As in a Muriel Spark novel, you might go completely mad along with the protagonist, as her despair gets into your own mind, and hammers on its walls. You will be trapped, like her, in an apartment (which grows smaller and smaller), and won’t be able to leave until the narrative has lived itself out. Unlike Spark, Ferrante’s writing is almost completely humourless. This is somehow not a failing for her; it only serves to demonstrate the true height and awfulness of the stakes. You may think that I have made this book sound horrible. It is, as in the subject matter, the communicated emotion, the little blows administered to this woman, are very horrible, in a banal way. But it is a work of perfection. It is a perfect short novel, and I really think you should read it immediately. Whatever it is you are currently reading, it is almost certainly not as good as The Days of Abandonment.

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