Ties by Domencio Starnone review – a sharply observed tale of a couple in crisis

The novel by Elena Ferrante’s huband follows a similar course to her Days of Abandonment

Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment described a wife’s wrath at the husband who leaves her and their two children for a younger woman. Ties lays out a similar scenario from the betrayer’s point of view, which may be no coincidence, given that Domenico Starnone is married to Anita Raja, aka Elena Ferrante (allegedly). Clever, concise and astringent, it swiftly dispels any suspicion that the pair ought to just get a room or that their publisher risks bleeding the Ferrante craze dry. The narrator, an ex-screenwriter from Naples, has cause to revisit his desertion after an apparent break-in at the Rome flat he shares with his wife, the two uneasily reconciled in late age after his reckless midlife pursuit of sexual and professional desire in the 1970s. Translated at Starnone’s invitation by the US novelist Jhumpa Lahiri – a Ferrante favourite – the story glints and cuts like smashed crystal.

Ties by Domenico Starnone is published by Europa (£9.99). To order a copy for £8.49 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846


Anthony Cummins

The GuardianTramp

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