i’m alive, just went through a severe depressive episode and couldn’t read or write to save my life. i’ve started various posts multiple times to try to explain what happened but i don’t think it’s necessary. what matters is i’m back now and i’m reading again. i’m at a point where i can engage in my hobbies again and write about it and that makes me very happy.
i have just finished The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante and felt so compelled to write a post on it, here i am. it was recommended to me in one of my favorite book stores. imagine … a little shop front littered with book titles and you walk in and it stretches as far back as you can see, tunnels of books and shelves that go up to the ceiling with ladders lining them with warnings “staff only” hanging off the rungs.
this young man who worked there and i kept coming up against each other so i asked “hey, what do you recommend that’s similar to the despair found in My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh?” if you know anything about me, it’s that i love reading this despairing women in literature trope, i don’t know what it is, but i’m going to make a psycho-analysis post separately on the topic.
ANYWAY the young man hadn’t read it so he grabbed one of his coworkers who immediately beelined straight for Elene Ferrante’s novel. i brought it home and it sat on my shelf as my books do, telling myself i’d read it. coming out of a depressive episode, i decided, yeah, i’m going to read a depressing book, because THAT makes sense.
this is my review of this lovely little book. i read it in 2 days, having to take a little intermission in between due to the intense emotions that this novel evoked from me.
The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
contemporary, italian lit, womens lit
published : january 2002
my rating : ★★★★★
our main character, Olga, has a happy family. one son, one daughter, and a loving husband. but suddenly the husband leaves. he claims an “absence of sense” as the perpetrator. she thinks he’ll come back to her, but he doesn’t. she starts to spiral.
my thoughts :
this book DESTROYED me. i made it halfway through and fell apart, weeping rather dramatically to my boyfriend about lost love and anxiety relating to probable pain. the writing is powerful, it incites this emotional response, at least within me. it made me uneasy, anxious, upset, distraught. if you’ve ever had your heart broken, i think you can relate to this novel.
Olga goes through all the stages of grief; denial that he left her, intense anger, bargaining and manipulation, severe depression and then .. spoiler alert .. does she find acceptance?
❝ we are occasions. we consummate life and lose it..”
watching, reading about Olga’s struggles, it’s like, at least for me, putting myself back into that painful place of loss and heartbreak. if the writing was less well executed, i wouldn’t have had such a strong response. if it was heavy, i wouldn’t have had such a strong response. the language is sometimes lewd, offering to a sort of intimacy between the narrator and the reader, as if we are really peering inside somebody’s thoughts, voyeuristically glimpsing Olga’s heart-rending pain.
❝ the circle of an empty day is brutal, and at night it tightens around your neck like a noose.”
you feel for her, and you feel for her children who are witnessing their mother’s decline. Olga is losing touch with reality, i think we can all relate with the sense of dread we feel when we think we’re losing everything. this book is the sensation of falling, of realizing that there’s no net beneath you and that there’s just cold wet cement.
it’s a tough read – emotionally speaking, but it’s worth it in my opinion. like i said before, the writing is impeccable, the character of Olga is well fleshed out, you feel for her even though you’re not sure if you like her or not. it’s just a 5 star book to me and i loved it and would highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys contemporary fiction or, like me, reading about “women vs the void”.
thanks for reading!