Top positive review
Passionate, unsatisfying debut novel
Reviewed in the United States on October 31, 2017
I have a deep and abiding love for Elena Ferrante. The first book I read by her was My Brilliant Friend and I went on to read the next two books in The Neapolitan Novels the same day. Her writing is controlled but also passionate, frightening. Her characters have recklessness to them that I really enjoy. I picked up Troubling Love because I was reading Frantumaglia (which I highly, highly recommend, it's the best nonfiction book I read this year) and I realized that I wanted to read all her novels before I continued to read it because it consists of interviews about her various books. Troubling Love, as I understand, was Ferrante's first book. She says in Frantumaglia that she was writing for many years before she wrote it but this was the first story that she felt really had literary truth, could stand on its own two feet. I find Troubling Love to be a kind of perplexing and unsatisfying book. I would probably say that most her other books are strictly better, but this book does have the kind of raw power that characterizes all her writing, and Delia's relationship with her mother has the trademark complexity that defines all of female relationships Ferrante depicts. I love the Naples that she brings to life in every novel. I read a New York Times review of Troubling Love in which the author describes ripping the book down the middle and says Ferrante will "recognize my compliment since she’s clearly an idolizer of the unchecked urge, the gut response." The unchecked urge: that's Ferrante.