Troubling Love, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein, a few weeks ago but have had difficulty verbalizing my reaction to this short novel. Following a middle-aged woman’s quest to discover the mystery around her own mother’s mysterious death, Troubling Love is raw and direct. The story delves into the psyche of a woman, Delia, who witnessed her parents’ abusive relationship as a child while she is grieving the loss of her mother. As she uncovers details about her mother’s death, she also learns more about what she experienced with her family years ago. At times in the story, the identities of mother and daughter are muddled, subtly demonstrating the cycle of abuse. Also, often I wasn’t sure if I was reading as an objective narrator or through Delia’s eyes; I found myself thinking, “She just lost her mother. Perhaps she’s just grieving. Perhaps things aren’t as they seem”.
While I can’t say that I enjoyed reading this book, I certainly appreciated its unique style. Ferrante succeeds at creating a suspenseful plot, and as I started finding clues to illuminate how and why the mother died, I really wanted to keep reading until I had an answer. It seemed to me that Delia, along with other characters, were always on the move; Ferrante builds suspense in this way. I felt often out of breath on Delia’s behalf, who was always walking briskly down an Italian alley or up the apartment stairs or running onto a crowded train. At times, I found this confusing and distracting from the main plot, but for the most part, I think this technique really built the mystery.