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The Lying Life of Adults: A murky, exciting journey out of early adolescence

Fiction: The Lying Life of Adults

Elena Ferrante

Europa, 322 pages, hardcover €14.99; e-book £9.33

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The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

The first I ever heard of Elena Ferrante was maybe five years ago, when an extremely well-read American friend - we'll call him E - was explaining why, after a lifetime, he had given up reading fiction. Essentially, E explained, it's not authentic; it's more about artifice than truth; it all felt rather pointless.

However, there was one exception: Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet, which had been published from 2011-14 in her native Italian, then each in translation roughly a year later, and was beginning to get real traction among Anglophone readers and critics.

E had never read anything quite like Ferrante, in terms of style - or rather, lack of style - or rather, there is a style but it's wrought so subtly that you don't realise it's there. It's evinced in her latest novel, The Lying Life of Adults, as clearly as in the Neapolitan novels.