Monday, January 4, 2021

Book Review: The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: September 1, 2020
Publisher: Europa Editions
Source: Library
Other Books By Author: My Brilliant Friend
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Giovanna’s pretty face is changing, turning ugly, at least so her father thinks. Giovanna, he says, looks more like her Aunt Vittoria every day. But can it be true? Is she really changing? Is she turning into her Aunt Vittoria, a woman she hardly knows but whom her mother and father clearly despise? Surely there is a mirror somewhere in which she can see herself as she truly is.  Giovanna is searching for her reflection in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and Naples of the depths, a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves from one to the other in search of the truth, but neither city seems to offer answers or escape.  Named one of 2016’s most influential people by TIME Magazine and frequently touted as a future Nobel Prize-winner, Elena Ferrante has become one of the world’s most read and beloved writers. With this new novel about the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, Ferrante proves once again that she deserves her many accolades. In The Lying Life of Adults, readers will discover another gripping, highly addictive, and totally unforgettable Neapolitan story."


Giovanna lives in Naples and while she is a good daughter and a good student, she can't get over a comment she heard her father say about her in passing to her mother.  Her father said that Giovanna looks just like his estranged sister, Vittoria, whom he loathes. This sends Giovanna for a whirlwind. Who is this woman (her aunt!) that shares a face with her? Why did their relationship become so fractured?  Giovanna is determined to unravel this family mystery and meet her Aunt Vittoria.  While on this journey, her world is opened up in many ways, whether it be to new neighborhoods throughout Naples that are unlike her own or through family secrets as well as sexuality, Giovanna discovers all this and more.  Elena Ferrante's The Lying Life of Adults is perfect for fans of My Brilliant Friend as it has a lot of the same themes and is very well written.

Giovanna is just twelve years old in The Lying Life of Adults; her world is opening up and she is learning so much about it as well as the adults in it.  When she does meet with her Aunt Vittoria, she learns why she no longer speaks to her father and the lies that were told on both sides.  There's secrets, rivalries, as well as Giovanna's own revelations about the adults in her life.  She reminded me a lot of Ferrante's protagonists in My Brilliant Friend. Giovanna is smart, but is concerned about her appearance, which is typical of teenage girls.  Ferrante's ability to depict adolescence and what many teenage girls go through is the best in the business

Another thing Ferrante does well is the way she depicts Naples and the different "classes" within the city. There's different neighborhoods that are well-off and Ferrante demonstrates the various way that plays out among the characters just as it did in My Brilliant Friend.  This all adds to the memorable setting of The Lying Life of Adults.

While I didn't love The Lying Life of Adults as much as My Brilliant Friend, I could still appreciate the novel's themes and overall message. I love that Ferrante isn't afraid to explore violence, sexuality, as well as the complexities of female emotions especially during the formative years.  If you love My Brilliant Friend, you must check out The Lying Life of Adults. One thing you can always count on is Ferrante's writing; it's some of the best I've recently read.

Are you a fan of Elena Ferrante? Have you read My Brilliant Friend? Let me know in the comments below. 


  1. I borrowed a copy of My Brilliant Friend from my sister-in-law, but I never actually read it!

    1. I hope you get to read it! Then you must watch the show on HBO. Very well done! Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. This is a new author to me, but I might have to check her out. Also will check out your review of My Brilliant Friend.

    1. Thanks, Joy! She is fantastic. Some people say she is one of the greatest writers of our generation! Thanks for visiting!


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