the lying life of adults

Book review: The Lying Life of Adults (La Vita Bugiarda Degli Adulti), Elena Ferrante

A short book review of The Lying Life of Adults, but this time not focused on existentialism, feminism or psychotherapy.

Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Read for: a window into life in Naples, teenage-hood and your parents.

I read this book for fun (I forgot about reading books because I wanted to!), but also because I have a student who wanted to read it. So, we read it together (via weekly Zoom of course).

In between reading Heidegger’s Being and Time, Ferrante’s latest book was almost quite literally a breath of fresh, easy air.

The Lying Life of Adults follows the story of little Giovanna from the age of 12 until about 16 when the book ends as she reaches ‘adulthood’ (really?!). The story centre around her sense of identity in a family where her dad’s side was cut off and forgotten because not educated and rich enough for Giovanna’s parents’ life goals.

We follow her doubts and heartaches as she tries to establish some sort of relationship with her lost aunt, Zia Vittoria. Zia Vittoria begins her journey in the book as some quasi-mythical creature, maybe a witch, who exudes power, sex and rage in everything she does. She is positively mesmerising. As Giovanna grows up, we see a more realistic portrayal of her aunt and also of her parents, who up until now were on a golden pedestal in the little girl’s eyes.

A true coming of age novel, but not for the young adults. I particularly enjoyed following Giovanna as she realises that her parents are human beings who have and continue to make lots of mistakes and that not everything they say is the truth. It is a hard lesson to learn.

Ferrante‘s writing is, of course, quick, witty and poignant – every word she chooses is carefully selected and the effect is phenomenal. We grow with Giovanna as our heart breaks with hers and the other women in the story.

It might not change your life, but it will surely change your week.

If you enjoy books (or book reviews) I more here and here.

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