Book Review: The Days of Abandonment

The Days of Abandonment

Elena Ferrante

Europa Editions

188 pages

As a wife, it has always been one of my worst nightmares.  To be abandoned, your husband declaring that he is no longer in love with you.  That he has found another woman.  That nightmare is Olga’s reality.  Olga and Mario have been married for 15 years and have two children together.  They have had bumps in the road before, but it quickly becomes apparent to Olga that Mario is serious this time, and that their marriage is over.

Olga is devastated and is unable to process the situation.  She begins to neglect her children and she turns in on herself.  She becomes obsessed with Mario and his new girlfriend, to the point that it consumes her.  It all escalates until one fateful day when Olga completely loses the plot.

My heart ached for Olga at first, but as the book wore on, she started to irritate me.  I am all for wallowing in self pity, but at some point you have to brush yourself off and get on with life.  The neglect of her children was distressing, especially once her son got sick.  I really started to question whether the children were in danger with their mother.  At one point, Olga’s seven year old daughter is acting like more of an adult than Olga herself.

I wish that I had not read this for Dewey’s readathon.  Although it is a short book, it deserves to be savored.  There is a lot to take in and I think I would have had a more fulfilling experience had I been able to take my time with this one.  Instead, I was a little too rushed and I am only now getting a chance to dissect The Days of Abandonment as I am writing this review. Despite that, I still enjoyed the novel and thought it was disturbing in a good way.

Other Review:

Care’s Online Book Club

Bibliophile by the Sea

I received a copy of this book from the ever generous Care at Care’s Online Book Club.  Thank you Care!

September Reading Wrap Up

 

It can’t be denied.  Fall has finally arrived.  That means my footie pajamas have come out of hiding and I am drinking copious amounts of coffee and chai lattes.  Candles are constantly burning and I am always wrapped in a cozy blanket.  So what does that mean for my reading? Well, it means that I am reading more.  I expected that to be reflected in my numbers this month, but it isn’t really.  Part of that is due to The Alienist, which took me ten days to read.

Here is what I read during September:

The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell

The Alienist, by Caleb Carr

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

The True Memoirs of Little K, by Adrienne Sharp

The Poison Tree, by Erin Kelly

Cold Kiss, by Amy Garvey

Napoleon’s Privates, by Tom Perrottet

Curtains, Tom Jokinen

Jumping off Swings, Jo Knowles

That’s a grand total of 9 books, plus one DNF (Waiting for Robert Capa).

I had a tie for my favorite book of the month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for my challenges, you may remember that I dropped pretty much every challenge earlier this year, but I am participating in two challenges at the moment.

Information for the Europa challenge can be found here. I chose to read 4 Europas by the end of 2011.  I don’t know if that will happen, because at this point I have only read one.  Plus, I am in such an RIP swing of things that I have been reading mostly books that fall under that category.  Maybe I should join the perpetual challenge . . .

RIP is my favorite challenge of the year.  Information for it can be found here. I have already surpassed the level I chose, which was 4 books.  So far, I have read 5 books for this challenge and I plan to keep going strong in October.  Plus, I plan to read The Lantern for Carl’s RIP readathon, so I am looking forward to that too.

How was September for you?

Book Review: The Art of Losing

The Art of Losing

Rebecca Connell

Europa Editions

240 pages

Louise lost her mother at a very young age.  She is now in her twenties and is in search for the man who she believes to be responsible for her mother’s death.

Nicholas and Louise’s mother met during the 80s when they worked together at a school.  Also working there was Lydia’s husband, who is a bit socially awkward but is very much enamored with his wife.  Lydia and Nicholas soon embark on an affair that completely engulfs the two of them and threatens to destroy those around them.

Eventually the two must make a decision as to whether they forge ahead as a couple and leave their respective families or cut ties completely and move on.  Neither choice is optimal and the two are at a loss as to what to do.

Years later, Louise adopts her mother’s name and starts trying to infiltrate Nicholas’s life.  She holds him completely responsible for the death of her mother, and as such, she abhors him.  As she gets deeper and deeper though, she begins to understand that circumstances are not as cut and dry as she had assumed.

The Art of Losing was absolutely fantastic.  Adultery is such a tough pill to swallow, and Connell was able to show that.  It was easy at first to judge Nicholas and Lydia but as their affair wore on, they became almost helpless, and probably just as miserable as their respective partners.  While that certainly doesn’t absolve them of their actions, it made them human.

Likewise, Louise was quick to judge Nicholas but she started to realize that the relationship between her parents and the separate relationships they had were unknown to her in the way that those relationships are between parents and children.

A good book is one that makes you think long after you put it down.  The Art of Losing gave me a lot to digest and the character and their actions were such that I could never completely “choose” a side.

The Art of Losing will certainly make it to my Best of list for 2011.  It counts towards the Europa Challenge.

Other Reviews:

Vulpes Libris

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble.

Challenges

I think that as I have been blogging longer and longer, reading challenges have become less important to me. When I first began blogging, I was all about participating in challenges, both for the camaraderie and the fun of reading something new.  After almost two years of book blogging though, challenges seem more like a burden than anything else.  I already have enough obligations with my reading, so from this point on, my participation in reading challenges will be very limited.  I went ahead and deleted Current Challenges page and Completed Challenges page to try and alleviate the pressure.  In fact, the only challenge I plan on participating in at this time is the Europa Editions challenge, along with possibly (most likely!) the RIP challenge later this year.

I am always on the hunt for Europa books, and I have quite a few on my shelves that I haven’t read yet, so this challenge is a win-win for me.  The challenge runs from July 1, 2011-December 31, 2011 and has a myriad of levels.

There are several levels of participation:
Europa Ami (friend in French): Read 4 Europa titles by the end of 2011;
Europa Haver (friend in Hebrew): Read 7 books by the end of 2011 (one per month);
Europa Amante (lover in Italian): Read 14 books by the end of 2011 (2 per month). At any level, you can qualify as

  • A Connoisseur, by accepting the Perpetual Challenge;
  • An Expatriate, by choosing books from a single country or original language;
  • A Passport Holder, by choosing books from different countries or original languages.

We have two speciality challenges:

Love Challenge
Sélim Nassib, I Loved You for Your Voice

Edna Mazya, Love Burns

Elena Ferrante, Troubling Love
Massimo Carlotto, Bandit Love

Creature Challenge

 Benjamin Tammuz, Minotaur
Alicia Giménez-Bartlett, Dog DayWolf Erlbruch, The Miracle of the Bears
Edwin M. Yoder Jr., Lions at Lamb House.
Roma Tearne, Mosquito
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
You can do the speciality challenges towards any of the Ami/Haver/Amante levels.
If anything, I plan to do the Ami level, which is to read 4 Europas by the end of the year.  I may read more than 4, I may read less.  That remains to be seen.  I am very excited though as Europa Editions is one of my favorite imprints!
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