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The Lying Life of Adults

The Lying Life of Adults

Book - 2020
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"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."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Europa Editions, 2020
Copyright Date: Translation, ©2020
ISBN: 9781609455910
Call Number: FICTION FERRANTE 2020
Characteristics: 322 pages ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Goldstein, Ann 1949-- Translator


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Jun 08, 2021

Bless Elena Ferrante for her laser-precision perspicacity (and bless her translator into English, Ann Goldstein). This novel is about Giovanna as she goes from being 15 to 16; as her parents’ marriage breaks up; as she becomes a sexual being, and as she sees the disenchanting world for what it is. In contrast to the Neapolitan Quartet, Giovanna's world straddles both squalid and bourgeois Naples, but whatever civilised pretences are peeled back to reveal the same pervasive brutality and Giovanna’s challenge at becoming a sexual being with such paltry male offerings to discover her sexuality with. It is the rebuttal to ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ if Portnoy had met his match, and this young woman's version of the story is rage-filled and defiant in the face of all the men who would objectify and use her. Nothing clichéd or anticipated happens in this novel (or any of Ferrante’s work), yet what does happen is precisely what happens in life as actually lived. This shucking off of fairytale conventions and illusions is what makes Ferrante’s writing so refreshing, so authentic and without parallel.

Apr 05, 2021

Ferrante's Neapolitan novels were some of my favorite of the past decade. Her most recent covers some of the same themes but is more concerned with the preoccupations and concerns of its unhappy adolescent protagonist. Family secrets, dysfunction, sex, education, and beauty are just a few of subjects Ferrante covers with her usual wit, nuance, and empathy.

Mar 04, 2021

This is a brilliant and very entertaining book. Loved it more than the previous Neapolitan novels.
Her writing feels like you know the characters in person.

Feb 20, 2021

I listened to this book and Marisa Tome was a terrific narrator. I only finishes the book because I had a long drive. Overall, I found the book uninteresting. The charm of her earlier novels is missing. I do not recommend this book.

Jan 05, 2021

This is the coming of age story of Giovanna, whose father reveals that she doesn’t have a pretty face, that she is like his dreadful unsophisticated sister, her Aunt Vittoria. With that new knowledge, Giovanna heads into the world adrift, keenly watching her parents, her aunt, her girl friends and their parents, teachers, and boyfriends, until she discovers Roberto, the intelligent studious and charismatic fiancé of Guiliana, and she falls in love. Roberto has managed to pull himself out of the poorest neighborhood, published articles about justice and religion, earning even her father’s respect. In Ferrante’s beautiful writing every psychological nuance is significant. Excellent novel, gorgeously translated from the Italian.

Dec 03, 2020

Ferrante has written a good coming of age novel. Giovanna overhears her parents talking and believes they think her ugly. This leads to a chain of events featuring her aunt and parents who have battled over the ages. The class distinctions in Naples come into play but I feel Ferranto has just mentioned them so she could be vulgar. I was not comfortable reading the lewd descriptions but the main theme of the story comes out well in several statements like "Adults tell you not to lie but they lie themselves." The novel could well have been titled, "The Bracelet."

Nov 29, 2020

Getting in the head of a young teenaged girl is not for the weak. What a ride. If you’ve done it once, you might want to do it again only this time in Italy. Or maybe not. I hated, hated, hated the ending. I hated a whole lot of the characters, too. But the writing is incredible. You just can’t stop, especially with such beautiful writing/translation/depth and drama. What is life as a young teenager girl if not a whole lot of drama? And from her perspective, a whole lot of dramatic adults.

This is my first Ferrante book and maybe I should have started with the more popular ones as this made me quite uncomfortable. But isn’t that the point of reading? To lose yourself in the control of a storyteller who shows you what life is like lived in a completely unfamiliar way? So if that’s the bar to rise above, this book certainly takes you there.

If you are comfortable stepping into a young girl/woman’s shoes and following her through her parents divorce and consequences, through learning how to deal with men/boys, and family dynamics, this is brilliant. There’s no better writer to get you all crazy like a teenaged girl. A quirky, interesting, feisty teenaged girl. And that’s not something you get to do very often. Certainly not as brilliantly written as this.

Nov 28, 2020

After overhearing a nasty comment about her looks, a teenage girl begins a search into her parents life, only to find deception and snobbery. It begins the search for her own value. A crush on a older intellectual man begins a journey into own deception and values.

JCLFlanneryC Oct 06, 2020

A wonderful, powerful, and dark coming-of-age story. If, like me, you had trouble with the Neapolitan novels and who knows why-- maybe the pinky/lavender book art or egregious mismarketing of Ferrante as an author of "chick lit"-- try her standalone novels, beginning with Days of Abandonment. Like Days of Abandonment, The Lying Life of Adults is an ugly book, obsessed with its own ugliness, interested in the voluntary abasement/nihilism of teenage girls. To her childhood friend, Giovanna spits: "Only b****es like you study like parrots, get promoted, and are respected by their boyfriends. I don't study, I get flunked, and I'm a whore." Wow! And still Giovanna is vulnerable enough to be made and unmade in the eyes of others, specifically the men around her. I love too, that this book has neither a happy nor unhappy ending, I feel like bad girls are always doomed in fiction and these kinds of books are most often narrated from the perspective of their introverted friend. Powerful move to give the first person back to the flunkies! Loved it, recommend it for Ferrante fans and anyone on the fence.

Sep 18, 2020

You have everything in this novel to keep you entertained for many days: a coming-of-age tale, class conflict, generational vendettas and grudges, bad romance and etc. Did I mentioned that translation from the Italian to English by Ann Goldstein is superb as well? Do not miss it! Another quality read from enigmatic Elena Ferrante.
Soon to be Netflix series....

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