The first of Ferrante’s novels, this is a story of the death of a mother and the unwinding of the daughter, a daughter who narrates a kind of Kafkaesque jaunt through Naples in an attempt to come to terms with her mother’s death and her own youth, as well as try to fathom how her mother actually died. In so far as we get precisely nowhere, this novel is a little frustrating. But this is also why it is good: we wonder at where we have got to and want to understand. “Even the stars, so thick in summer, seemed to me points of my confusion. I was to such an extent determined to become different from her that, one by one, I lost the reasons for resembling her.” No, it doesn’t always quite make sense. But it’s beautiful and wise nonetheless.