The book is the latest from the Italian author, whose wildly popular Neapolitan quartet spurred a rash of Ferrante fever in 2012 with the arrival of “My Brilliant Friend.” Set in Naples, “The Lying Life of Adults” is translated by Ann Goldstein, who has been skillfully bringing Ferrante’s works to English readers since the 2002 publication of “The Days of Abandonment.”
We begin the story with an insult, particularly that of the adolescent protagonist Giovanna who overhears her father calling her “ugly” to her mother, stating, “Adolescence has nothing to do with it: she’s getting the face of Vittoria.” The scene takes place in her parents’ apartment in Naples (the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri, in Rione Alto, to be exact) and the image becomes seared into Giovanna’s mind, where it festers into action.
Giovanna admits that an observer might note the words did not equate to an overt declaration of ugliness.
“Here someone might object: maybe you’re exaggerating, your father didn’t say, literally, Giovanna is ugly,” she submits. “It’s true, it wasn’t in his nature to utter such brutal words. But I was going through a period of feeling very fragile.”
As she explains, it’s her father’s dislike of Vittoria, and the subsequent suggestion of his loss of admiration for his daughter, that gores Giovanna.
Shortly after considering the implications of the claim, Giovanna decides to seek out the resemblance for herself. “In the morning I was convinced that, if I wanted to save myself, I had to go and see what Aunt Vittoria’s face was really like.” And with that, she sets off.
In addition to this month’s book pick, we will also be releasing an interview with American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland, whose new release, “Bunheads,” illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey, is slated for publication Sept. 29.
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Find a full schedule of what to expect and reading assignments below!
The Ballerina Book Club pick for September is Elena Ferrante’s “The Lying Life of Adults”
Note: The weekly Ballerina Book Club newsletter goes out on Thursdays.
Sept. 3: We’ll start off by reading section I.
Sept. 10: Reading assignment: Sections II and III.
Plus, watch out for a special excerpt from “Days of Abandonment.”
Sept. 17: Reading assignment: Sections IV and V.
Our interview with Misty Copeland goes live and arrives in your inbox! Also, stay tuned for a special friend’s pick.
Sept. 24: Reading assignment: Sections VI and VII.
Sept. 30: Time to chat! Join us on Instagram for a live Q&A with Ballerina Book Club’s Isabella Boylston and Connor Holloway.
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Top Image: Cover of Elena Ferrante's "The Lying Life of Adults." Europa.