Why You Should Be Excited About Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults

Everything you need to know about the acclaimed author's newest novel.

elena ferrante the lying life of adults

According to The Economist, “Elena Ferrante may be the best contemporary novelist you have never heard of.” We agree—she is one of the best contemporary novelists—though we’re hoping that by now, you have heard of her. 

And if you’re anything like us, you can’t wait to get your hands on her newest novel, The Lying Life of Adults.

Pseudonymous Italian author Elena Ferrante is a literary tour-de-force. She’s published 10 books, though she’s best known for her Neapolitan Quartet, a set of four books that follow the friendship of two women coming of age on the outskirts of Naples in the 1950s. Though the story sounds simple, it’s anything but—”Nothing you read about Elena Ferrante’s work prepares you for the ferocity of it,” writes Amy Rowland in The New York Times

In 2018, HBO released the first season of My Brilliant Friend, the adaptation named after the first book in the Neapolitan series. The Italian-language series quickly received universal acclaim for its production, acting, and exploration of female friendship. As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett wrote in The Guardian, "How revolutionary it still feels to see female friendship explored onscreen in this way. It goes without saying that it takes the Bechdel test and turns it into ragù."

While My Brilliant Friend and the rest of the Neapolitan novels are certainly deserving of these accolades, we wouldn’t want to forget that the rest of Ferrante’s novels, from her debut, a psychological thriller called Troubling Love, to her most recent work of psychological fiction, The Lying Life of Adults.

Everything We Know About Elena Ferrante's The Lying Life of Adults

1. The book was released in Italian last November—and the world already loves it.

Like pretty much every one of Ferrante’s books before it, La vita bugiarda degli adulti was immediately loved by critics. “Reading a novel by Elena Ferrante is like coming home, like returning to those happy childhood moments—perhaps imaginary—when we asked mom or dad to tell us the same bedtime story over and over again. From the very first sentences, The Lying Life of Adults enfolds and absorbs readers in the same way.”—Vanity Fair (Italy)

2. In fact, it’s already being made into a Netflix series.

And yes—like My Brilliant Friend, it will be in Italian. As of now the series does not have a release date. Below, you can watch a teaser trailer that pulls text from the opening pages of the book.

Related: 15 Book to Movie Adaptations Streaming on Netflix Now 

3. Like My Brilliant Friend, the story follows a girl in Naples.

But unlike the story of Li, our protagonist is not shaped by mid-20th century ideals. Instead, the novel takes place in the 1990s, and Giovanna is plagued by a surreal issue—both her parents believe she is growing to resemble her aunt Vittoria, whom they despise. Determined to figure out who she truly is, Giovanna begins searching for her aunt. It’s a journey that will take her out of the upper echelons of refined Naples, where she grew up, and lead her into the murky depths of the city.

4. Due to COVID-19. the book’s release date has been pushed.

While The Lying Life of Adults was slated to be released in English on June 9, its publishing date has been pushed another two months, to September 1. But you can make sure you get your copy as soon as possible by pre-ordering it now.

The Lying Life of Adults

The Lying Life of Adults

By Elena Ferrante

“There’s no doubt [the publication of The Lying Life of Adults] will be the literary event of the year.”—Elle 

Giovanna’s pretty face is changing, turning ugly, at least so her father thinks. Giovanna, he says, is looking more like her Aunt Vittoria every day. But can it be true? Is she really changing? Will she turn out like her despised Aunt Vittoria, a woman she hardly knows but whom her mother and father have spent their whole lives avoiding and deriding? There must be a mirror somewhere in which she can see herself as she truly is.

Giovanna is searching for her true reflection in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, neither city seems to offer answers or escape.