A NEW YORK TIMES & NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A BEST BOOK OF 2020
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A POWERFUL NEW NOVEL set in a divided Naples by ELENA FERRANTE, the New York Times best-selling author of My Brilliant Friend and The Lost Daughter. Soon to be a NETFLIX Original Series.
“Another spellbinding coming-of-age tale from a master.”—People Magazine, Top 10 Books of 2020
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.
“There’s no doubt [the publication of The Lying Life of Adults] will be the literary event of the year.”—ELLE Magazine
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Elena Ferrante enchanted us with her brilliant Neapolitan series, whose four books brought the secretive author global fame. This much-anticipated novel—also set in Naples—delivers many of the same moody pleasures and diary-worthy insights. When 12-year-old Giovanna overhears her beloved father compare her unfavorably to his estranged sister, she demands an introduction to this disreputable aunt. Their meeting leads to the discovery of several family secrets that rupture Giovanna’s trust in everyone closest to her, forcing her to develop her own powers of deception. Rivalrous friendships once again propel this story, but unlike the quartet, Ferrante’s gimlet-eyed preoccupation here is with the illusions that sustain us during childhood and the lies that eventually take their place as we grow up.
A single comment can change a life, or for Giovanna, the adolescent only child of a middle-class Neapolitan couple in the early 1990s and narrator of Ferrante's sumptuous latest (after The Story of the Lost Child), it can set it in motion. "She's getting the face of Vittoria," Giovanna's father, Andrea, says about her, referring to Giovanna's estranged aunt Vittoria, whom Andrea disdains and calls ugly. The comment provokes Giovanna into seeking out Vittoria on the other side of Naples, where she finds a beautiful, fiery woman, consumed by bitterness over a lover's death and resentful of Andrea's arrogance at having climbed the social ladder. Andrea can't save Giovanna from Vittoria's influence, and their relationship will affect those closest to Giovanna as family secrets unravel and disrupt the harmony of her quiet life. Giovanna's parents' devastating marital collapse, meanwhile, causes her to be distracted at school and held back a year, and prompts Giovanna into a steely self-awareness as she has her first sexual experiences along a bumpy ride toward adulthood. Themes of class disparity and women's coming-of-age are at play much as they were in Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet, but the depictions of inequality serve primarily as a backdrop to Giovanna's coming-of-age trials that buttress the gripping, plot-heavy tale. While this feels minor in comparison to Ferrante's previous work, Giovanna is the kind of winning character readers wouldn't mind seeing more of.