"My mother drowned on the night of May 23rd, my birthday". So begins this first novel written by the reclusive Italian author Elena Ferrante. Delia, the forty-something daughter goes on a personal odyssey into the past to examine her mother, Amalie's life. When found dead Amalie, a modestly living seamstress is discovered naked except for the lingerie she is wearing from an expensive shop, something completely out of character for her. Why? Did she have a lover? Did she commit suicide? Was her drowning an accident? What role did her estranged husband, Delia's father, play? Into the tangled web of an abusive past Ferrante examines truth, guilt, the validity of memory and finally the essential unknowability of those we love. Although this novel has less dramatic thrust than Ferrante's "The Days of Abandonment" she is a master at crafting sentences of extreme beauty and power.