Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2017
i had not read any ferrante before, and was told that this was a good start. it is, on the surface, the kind of fiction that i enjoy -- a closely observed character study of a complex character. there is not much of a plot -- a woman with mixed feelings about many things takes a vacation trip to a beach, encounters a family there and observes them, a child's toy is lost, things end with much unresolved. that is not usually a problem for me, as long as the character whose inner life is being presented is an interesting and nuanced one.
however, this novel annoyed me the entire time i was reading it. a lack of tidy plot is one thing, but ferrante's writing is almost incoherently vague at times, with switches in mood and feeling that seem almost arbitrary. and the language is frustrating to read -- clumsy sentences with odd wording and repetition. indeed, i began to wonder if it was in part a terrible translation, but the translator appears to have translated a bunch of fiction previously, including a number of ferrante's works. so. having no reason to blame the translation, i find myself not thinking very highly of ferrante's writing, and not likely to read anything else by her.