Ben Smithgall

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Software and data at Spotify. Previously with U.S. Digital Service and Code for America.

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The Days of Abandonment

By Elena Ferrante (with Ann Goldstein)

Finished reading on July 16, 2018

This early work shows Ferrante finding her form and delivering prose that delivers an endless torrent of emotion as a woman finds herself abandoned by her husband. There are many things to admire and fascinating ideas explored. One I find myself coming back to is the way she describes her children absorbing, as if they were sponges, the characteristics and mannerisms of their father and his newfound love interest.

The book kept me rapt and propelled me forward; the serious discomfort of the character jumped off the page. One of the things I admired most about My Brilliant Friend was the ebb and flow of serious emotion; here it floods over you ceaselessly. My Brilliant Friend was also published some years after this book, and while this translation still sparkles, Ann Goldstein’s translations seem to get better over time.

★★★☆☆