The Lost Daughter is a novel by Italian author Elena Ferrante (Days of Abandonment, My Brilliant Friend) and tells the story of a woman who sets about on a holiday to re-discover herself after her daughters have flown the nest. Ferrante writes the female inner monologue like no one else, and it is what she’s known for. A brutally frank insight into the feelings of a middle-aged woman questioning the decisions she has made and her role as a mother, it ticks all the boxes as a character-driven first person narrative and is unapologetically powerful.

Ferrante (a pseudonym the novelist works under) has been described as one of the world’s most influential female writers, with her works translated into many languages including English, Dutch, French and German. The Lost Daughter is a strong example of why; a difficult subject matter tackled unabashedly and with great wisdom. The heroine goes away to enjoy a relaxing retreat alone, but her peace is interrupted by a noisy family whom initially captivate her, but who she grows to find almost unbearably irritating. A chain of fairly insignificant events unnerve her, and we follow her spiral into herself and what she wants to believe about herself versus what she is increasingly realising to be true. In a similar manner to her other novels, the author looks at the truth behind marriage and motherhood, and what women want to be and then how that’s lost.

Ferrante’s style is intensely elegant and almost violent; a disarming combination that makes the text hypnotic. It’s still not easy to read, it’s far too potent for that. She provides a unique perspective on femininity that is not often visible in any form of the media, even literature, which often deserves praise for its diversity. It’s almost terrifying to read such a candid, ferocious book and yet see so much of the women around you reflected in it. Many women have a piece of a Ferrante novel inside themselves and either haven’t discovered it yet or have and want to deny its existence, and this fact taints each page with a bittersweet depth of understanding and insight. Ferrante is an important author, who writes beautifully and with subdued anger that writhes on the page. She is someone who I feel everyone should read something of, and if you haven’t, you’re missing out.