The Lost Daughter Summary
Elena Ferrante

Everything you need to understand or teach The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante.

  • The Lost Daughter Summary & Study Guide

The Lost Daughter Overview

Elena Ferrante’s novel The Lost Daughter, narrated in the first person by university English professor Leda, explores themes of motherhood, parental obligation and its impact on personal freedom, and the role of memory in perception of the present. Leda’s summer vacation at the shore becomes a nightmarish odyssey into her past; plagued with guilt about having left her daughters when they were young, she is surrounded by reminders of them and constantly revisits events around that crisis. Her obsessive observation of a Neapolitan family on the beach and eventual involvement with that family lead her to explore her feelings about her daughters and her mother, as well as herself as a mother. Leda’s “reading” of the Neapolitan family – colored by her anxiety and her tendency to project her own experiences onto the family’s members -- raises questions for the reader about her reliability as a narrator.

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