Monday, November 30, 2020

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

The Lying Life of Adults
by Elena Ferrante
Translated by Ann Goldstein
Read by Marisa Tomei
Published September 2020 (translated edition) by Europa Editions
Source: audiobook checked out from my local library

Publisher's Summary:
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.

Named one of 2016’s most influential people by TIME Magazine and frequently touted as a future Nobel Prize-winner, Elena Ferrante has become one of the world’s most read and beloved writers. With this new novel about the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, Ferrante proves once again that she deserves her many accolades. In The Lying Life of Adults, readers will discover another gripping, highly addictive, and totally unforgettable Neapolitan story.

My Thoughts:
So that I don't forget, let's just start with the reader - Marisa Tomei is terrific. So often when a famous person is reading, it's hard to get past the fact that you know the voice and stop putting that person's face to the characters. But I completely forgot that I knew who was reading the book, Tomei's voice is unrecognizable. 

Now, as for the book, Ferrante juxtaposes the lower Naples lower class and the upper Naples bourgeoisie, here in a coming-of-age tale that has young Giovanna awakening to the lies her parents have been telling her and each other. Running from them, Giovanna only finds more disillusionment, from the aunt that she at first adored to the young man she has come to idolize and, eventually, to herself as she finds that lying now comes naturally to her as well. 

Looking back at what has transpired, from the beginning of the book, Giovanna tells us everything we need to know about what will transpire and about Ferrante's writing.
"I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing, nothing of my own, nothing that has really begun or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knot, and nobody, not even the one who at this moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption."
If you're a fan of Ferrante's (and Goldstein, who has translated all of her books), this one will not disappoint. 


  1. I didn't like The Lying Life of Adults as much as you but, yes Marisa Tomei was terrific.

  2. I read the first book of her series and have been meaning to read the rest. This one looks just as good. Glad it didn't disappoint.