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

Contributor

Anthony Cummins

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif review – exuberant but sketchy refugee tale
The Booker-nominated author’s satirical novel about a lost American fighter pilot and a teenage refugee is a high-wire act

Ben East

14, Oct, 2018 @9:00 AM

Article image
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante review – a bracing return to Naples
Two generations on from Lenù and Lila, a young girl’s reunion with an estranged aunt offers a compelling story of family, desire and betrayal

Lisa Appignanesi

30, Aug, 2020 @12:00 PM

Article image
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante review – a rebel rich girl comes of age
Italians who queued up into the night for the reclusive writer’s new tale of painful adolescence won’t be disappointed

Kathryn Bromwich

17, Nov, 2019 @9:00 AM

Article image
Book clinic: which books will help to heal a broken heart?
Out of love with romance? Our expert suggests novels to analyse the processes of love, regain perspective and make you laugh

Lisa Appignanesi

07, Jul, 2018 @5:00 PM

Article image
Book clinic: I want to lose myself in an epic series this spring
Amanda Craig recommends something long and diverting

Amanda Craig

13, Apr, 2019 @5:00 PM

Article image
Ann Goldstein: 'I try to make it really clear that I am not Elena Ferrante'
The Italian author’s translator on how they work together, New York’s terrifying lockdown, and her favourite novelists

Alex Preston

12, Sep, 2020 @5:00 PM

Article image
The Lauras by Sara Taylor review – elegiac and beautifully observed
Sara Taylor’s second novel, charting a road trip and touching on themes of gender, loss and identity, is as evocative as her debut

Hannah Beckerman

07, Aug, 2016 @7:30 AM

Article image
Apeirogon by Colum McCann review – a beautifully observed masterpiece
Based on the true-life friendship of two men whose daughters were killed in the Middle East, this novel buoys the heart

Alex Preston

24, Feb, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
English Monsters by James Scudamore review – beautifully paced and well observed
This deft tale of abuse at an English boarding school is both sinister and tender

Johanna Thomas-Corr

02, Mar, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
The Woman from Uruguay by Pedro Mairal review – nuanced tale of a midlife crisis
This astute novella follows an Argentinian writer and his frail fantasies on a day trip to Montevideo

Lucy Popescu

07, Nov, 2021 @3:00 PM