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Leda is a middle-aged divorcée devoted to her work as an English teacher and to her two children. When her daughters leave home to be with their father in Canada, Leda anticipates a period of loneliness and longing. Instead, slightly embarassed by the sensation, she feels liberated, as if her life has become lighter, easier. She decides to take a holiday by the sea, in a small coastal town in southern Italy. But after a few days of calm and quiet, things begin to take a menacing turn. Leda encounters a family whose brash presence proves unsettling, at times even threatening. When a small, seemingly meaningless, event occurs, Leda is overwhelmed by memories of the difficult and unconventional choices she made as a mother and their consequences for herself and her family. The apparently serene tale of a woman's pleasant rediscovery of herself soon becomes the story of a ferocious confrontation with an unsettled past.
Following the extraordinary success of The Days of Abandonment, Elena Ferrante's standalone novel The Lost Daughter candidly explores the conflicting emotions that tie us to our children.