Reading Elena Ferrante

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I’ve finally read my first Ferrante book. There’s been a buzz around her work over the past few years since she’s been translated into English by Ann Goldstein. I thought I’d start small by reading her near-novella, Troubling Love. To call it a mystery story wouldn’t do it justice. It’s more of a psychological tale set in Napolitano Italy. What makes this a worthwhile read is the tension and pacing set by the first person narration. Delia is middle-aged and her mother has just died under strange circumstances. In unravelling this mystery, Delia has to face unsavoury characters from her past and come to terms with her own childhood lies. The writing is as bold as the protagonist, who deals with her period erupting and staining a pair of panties, a clumsy sexual encounter and revelations of a fetishlike nature. The linguist in me also liked the attention given to the use of dialect by the narrator, who observes how speaking dialect is something of her childhood and is the language used in anger. Speaking of language, that thump you heard was Grandma Trimarco turning over in her grave when I confessed to having to read this in English.

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