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Ferrante, Elena - 'Troubling Love'
Paperback: 139 pages (Mar. 2007) Publisher: Europa Editions ISBN: 1933372168

Europa Editions brings us another exquisitely jacketed novel from Italy, and the contents aren't too shabby either.

Delia's mother was due to visit her but when she didn't turn up and instead made three strange phone calls to her daughter, Delia knew something was wrong. Delia's mother, Amalia, was later found drowned in the sea not far from a holiday destination from Delia's childhood. Amalia's effects included some expensive lingerie that Delia knew her mother wouldn't have usually bought. Downtrodden for years by an abusive husband she had learnt not to draw attention to herself. Puzzled Delia begins to look into her mother's last few days and she discovers that her mother had become entwined with someone from their past.

Delia's journey for answers into her motherís death eventually takes her back to her childhood and the discovery that her words as a child had had a huge impact on her parents and others' lives.

This is not really what I'd call a crime novel, more a novel about relationships, but there are secrets and lies and the imagery evoked lends a fantastical feel to the tale as it flits back and forward between the present and Delia's memories. The story unfolds against the backdrop of a well conveyed Naples with the dead Amalia being as much a character as Delia with the two women in fact drawing closer after Amalia's death.

This is not an uplifting book and some of the Delia's descriptions of her activities are a bit near the knuckle. The multi-layered feel to the narrative should ensure that different readers will take different things away from the story.

The pseudonymous Elena Ferrante has managed to keep her identity a secret in spite of the acclaim her novels have received.

Karen Meek, England
July 2007

last updated 29/07/2007 16:46