I’ll cut the bullshit and quickly say that Ferrante’s novel, The Days of Abandonment, was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. A previous professor – one who has read through a ton of my short stories and poems to know that I love description and things most people wouldn’t find beautiful – thought that a book about a woman’s emotional turmoil after her husband leaves her was a perfect fit for me. And it definitely was.
Ferrante begins the story just as Olga’s husband, Mario, leaves her for another woman. Using a first-person perspective, Ferrante drags the reader along Olga’s mental state of mind and carefully, yet vividly describes the back-and-forth questions and problems that plague her as she scrambles to keep her life together. Through each short chapter, we are able to see the repercussions of decisions and the deep impact betrayal and loss has on someone fragile.
The novel itself – rather short – is very diaryesque without the actual cheesy, diary entry format. Instead, it is almost as if we are Olga and we are experiencing these painful and quite depressing situations ourselves. There were times, while I was reading, when I had to give myself moments to breathe and to simply take in what I was feeling. Ferrante’s intensity and portrayal of emotional breakdown is raw, honest, and something that can ring a bell with anyone whose been hurt before.
I’ll be honest and say that it wasn’t easy. I’m quite an emotional person to begin with and I tend to truly find myself within the pages of the books I read, so I was very much attached to Olga’s life. But Ferrante’s beautiful, elaborate descriptions and imitation of real-life mental thinking is something all writers should appreciate. She was able to capture moments that sometimes seem as if they have no words and recreate them on the page for us to watch.
Like most books that focus on topics that aren’t pleasant, I say to prepare yourself before you begin. But, please, please, please begin because this novel is worth a read.
Images: Mikael Kristenson, Roberto Tumini, Volkan Olmez/Unsplash.