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The Story of the Lost Child

The Story of the Lost Child: The Neapolitan Novels, Book Four

The Neapolitan Novels, Book Four

Elena Ferrante

  • awardWinner, Reader's Choice Award, International Book of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards, 2016
  • awardShortlisted, Best Translated Book Award, United States, 2016
  • awardShortlisted, Man Booker International Prize, United Kingdom, 2016
  • Translated by Ann Goldstein

    New York Times Notable Book, 2015

    The Story of the Lost Child is the long-awaited fourth volume in the Neapolitan Novels (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay). The quartet traces the friendship between Elena and Lila, from their childhood in a poor neighbourhood in Naples, to their thirties, when both women are mothers but each has chosen a different path. Their lives are still inextricably linked, for better or worse, especially when it comes to the drama of a lost child. 

    ‘The Neapolitan novels represent a new direction...there is an explicit ambition to reinvent her work in the tradition of great popular fiction but also, it seems to me, to give it the amplitude of the classics.’ An interview with Sandra Ozzola, Elena Ferrante’s editor and publisher.

    Read an article about Elena Ferrante in the Guardian, and this feature in Time about Naples and the setting for the Neapolitan Novels.

    Read an excerpt in Vanity Fair or the Guardian.


    Vanity Fair
    Paris Review


    EW: Why Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels Are the Best Book Series of the Decade 
    New York Times, Michiko Kakutani
    New York Times, Rachel Cusk

    Washington Post
    Globe and Mail
    New Yorker
    London Review of Books
    LA Review of Books
    New Statesman
    Times Literary Supplement
    WA today
    New Republic
    Public Books

    About the Author

    Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. She is the author of seven novels: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter, and the quartet of Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. Fragments, a selection of interviews, letters and occasional...

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    Text publication date:
    31 October 2016
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    Praise for Elena Ferrante
    andThe Story of the Lost Child

    ‘[Ferrante’s] charting of the rivalries and sheer inscrutability of female friendship is raw. This is high stakes, subversive literature.’

    ‘In the past decade, no fiction writer has made it more necessary to think about the performative aspect of being a woman than Elena Ferrante. Her novels, written originally in Italian and translated beautifully by Ann Goldstein, are ferociously engaged with the ways in which a woman—as a daughter, a teenager, a lover, and, most dramatically, a mother—is a kind of person in drag, speaking through a costume that slowly becomes all that one knows of her…It’s Ferrante’s ability to capture both the mirror and the woman standing before it that makes her a writer to be reckoned with.’

    ‘Nothing you read about Elena Ferrante’s work prepares you for the ferocity of it…This is a woman’s story told with such truthfulness that it is not so much a life observed as it is felt.’

    ‘Great novels are intelligent far beyond the powers of any character or writer or individual reader, as are great friendships, in their way. These wonderful books sit at the heart of that mystery, with the warmth and power of both.’

    ‘Elena Ferrante is one of the great novelists of our time. Her voice is passionate, her view sweeping and her gaze basilisk…In these bold, gorgeous, relentless novels, Ferrante traces the deep connections between the political and the domestic. This is a new version of the way we live now—one we need, one told brilliantly, by a woman.’

    ‘When I read [the Neapolitan novels] I find that I never want to stop. I feel vexed by the obstacles—my job, or acquaintances on the subway—that threaten to keep me apart from the books. I mourn separations (a year until the next one—how?). I am propelled by a ravenous will to keep going.’

    ‘Elena Ferrante’s magnificent “Neopolitan novels” trace the relationship between two headstrong Italian women…But these books are more than autobiography by other means. They also look outward, offering a dissection of Italian society that is almost Tolstoyan in its sweep and ambition. They are, into the bargain, extraordinarily gripping entertainment; the plot in this latest instalment twists and turns, like a Naples alleyway, towards a sequel-enabling conclusion. Novel by novel, Ferrante’s series is building into one of the great achievements of modern literature.’

    ‘Ferrante’s project is bold: her books chronicle the inner conflicts of intelligent women…Her writing has a powerful intimacy…a bona fide literary sensation–the famous writer nobody knows.’

    ‘The best thing I’ve read this year, far and away…She puts most other writing at the moment in the shade. She’s marvellous.’

    ‘The best angry woman writer ever.’

    ‘The Neapolitan series stands as a testament to the ability of great literature to challenge, flummox, enrage and excite as it entertains.’

    ‘The depth of perception Ms. Ferrante shows about her character’s conflicts and psychological states is astonishing…Her novels ring so true and are written with such empathy that they sound confessional.’

    ‘The older you get, the harder it is to recapture the intoxicating sense of discovery that comes when you first read George Eliot, Nabokov, Tolstoy or Colette. But this year it came again when I read Elena Ferrante’s remarkable Neapolitan novels.’

    ‘If you haven’t read Elena Ferrante, it’s like not having read Flaubert in 1856…Incontrovertibly brilliant.’

    ‘There is nothing remotely tiring or trying about the experience of reading the Neapolitan novels, which I, and a great many others, now rank among our greatest book-related pleasures…it is writing that holds honesty dear.’

    ‘A knowing and complex tale that encompasses an entire metropolis. The breadth of vision makes this final installment feel like the essential volume.’

    ‘Shattering and enthralling, intimate and vicious…The Neapolitan Novels are the kind of books that swallow me whole. As soon as I pick one up, I don’t want to breathe or move lest I break the spell…The Neapolitan Novels are among the most important in my reading life. I can’t recommend them highly enough.’

    ‘I say this with more confidence than I have felt during 15 years of book reviewing: the Neapolitan novels are extraordinary.’

    ‘Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels rest by your bedside as innocent as the dormant Vesuvius but with the same seismic possibility…The word “great” can, for once, be used with the strictness and precision of truth.‘

    ‘From a literary perspective, Ms Ferrante’s approach is masterly. She uses the melodramatic tropes of soap opera to tell a cracking good story, all the while smuggling in piercing observations, like a file baked in a cake.’

    ‘Ferrante’s writing seems to say something that hasn’t been said before…in a way so compelling its readers forget where they are, abandon friends and disdain sleep.’

    ‘Enthralling, disturbing, startlingly honest and a justly acclaimed tour de force.’

    ‘Ferrante’s importance ultimately lies not in her masterly plotting, her no-false-note sentences, but in her dedication to the bloodletting truth of a woman’s experience…My Brilliant Friend and its sequels are, in the end, nothing less than an epic of female identity and erasure.’

    ‘From a literary perspective, Ms Ferrante’s approach is masterly. She uses the melodramatic tropes of soap opera to tell a cracking good story, all the while smuggling in piercing observations, like a file.’

    ‘Ferrante captures the complexities of women, friendship and motherhood in ways that make your heart soar and ache in equal measures. If you haven’t already, treat yourself to this series.’

    ‘No one has written a book like this, certainly not about two women…what exists between Elena and Lila is far more fully examined, and fully realized, than anything outside of fiction.’

    ‘[Ferrante’s] Neapolitan novels contain real life – recognisable anxiety, joy, love and heartbreak. This is an incredibly difficult feat to achieve in the first place, let alone sustain, over four books. We will be talking about Elena and Lila for years to come.’

    ‘There’s a bright, sinewy humanness to Ferrante’s writing that is so alive it’s alarming…The Story of the Lost Child is a full emotional experience, and a fitting end to a huge, arresting series.’

    ‘Relentless is the word for [Ferrante’s] writing and also the need felt by the reader to read on and on. A great reading experience.’

    ‘A passionate, pacey, unflinchingly honest saga that gives a picture of contemporary Italian life and thought like nothing else.’

    ‘The most fascinating female friendship in literature…Ferrante, with her intense, furious learning and passion, excavates a world that grips because it is exceptional.’

    ‘A fitting conclusion to The Neapolitan Quartet, perhaps the finest literary series of the last 50 years. A brilliant, insightful, evocative novel.’

    Other editions ofThe Story of the Lost Child
    • The Story of the Lost Child
      ISBN: 9781922253279
      1 September 2015
      Buy ebook