Aples in the 1950s bright working class girls Elena Greco our narrator and bestie Lila Cerrullo survive childhood and adolescence learning how to navigate school boys sex and the limited opportunities available to them because of their class and genderInitially I found the book disorienting The prologue is set decades later and involves people we don t yet know Lila has disappeared and Elena is trying to discover what happened to her Presumably these books are her way of finding that outAnd once the story proper begins it takes a while to keep all the names straight Who is Nino again Enzo What are the grocers called It doesn t help that only Elena calls her friend Lila veryone Entranced (The Donovan Legacy, else calls her Lina and her birth name is Rafaella Also Elena is often called Lenu An index of the family names at the beginning proves very helpful But Elena Ferrante s prose is ravishing It s graceful without being precious mature and knowing while still immediate and visceral She literally plunges you into the lives of these children Family vendettas take on the power of myth middle school is a fraught war zone where learning goes beyond what s in the booksach change in the girls bodies is registered and assessed in terms of their newfound power or lack of it Late childhood and arly adolescence can be a painful time the stakes are high your identity isn t yet formed There s a sense of danger lurking verywhere One month that boy in class could be a friendly ally a few months later he might spit at your feet ignore you and take up your best friend Every situation not just a class assignment is a problem to be solvedNear the nd of the book the way one character orchestrates her way out of one ngagement and into another is worthy of something from The Godfather movies In its insights rich texture and violence murder threats being thrown out of a window the book reminded me of Alice Munro s arly masterpiece Lives Of Girls And Women And several things will continue to haunt me The girls first trip outside their neighbourhood when they run away How the title is mentioned in the final section of the book this makes you wonder who xactly is the brilliant one A scene in which the neighbourhood s teens all dressed up cross into a fancier part of town and realize with insecurity and anger how limited their world and lives are The climactic wedding scene in which all the threads of the story come together sex romance class destiny up until the surprising twist in the final line which will make you reconsider a big chunk of the story Elena s introduction to the pleasures and dangers of sexuality The idea of how we sometimes act to impress friends mimic being courageous by thinking of others actions or subtly do things while imagining our friends doing them The longings fears and sheer awkwardness of adolescence The legacy of fascism complete with stories about what family did what to whom and the changing nature of Italian society The idea of how ducation gets you ahead but also alienates you from the class you might soon be leaving behindFerrante a pen name has structured the book so carefully that an arly seuence in which the girls try to retrieve their dolls in a sewer contains in miniature verything that the book will ventually deal with lost innocence petty jealousy money imagination sinister men courage and the way that one person s account of the facts can vary drastically with the so called truthNow that I ve come down with Ferrante fever I look forward to the next novel The Story Of A New Name The Buried entire time I spent reading this book I asked myself What is wrong with this book Why am I having so much trouble getting into it It is incredibly slow paced but I also believe the Italian to English translation must be flawed Many of the sentences were confusing andven contradictory The redeeming factor and the reason I gave it two stars instead of one was that the Italian atmosphere was strongly prevalent and somewhat njoyable I learned what living in Naples in the 50s must have been like This novel has so much violence that it should come with some kind of rating Seriously I had no idea it was so dangerous to grow up in NaplesI feel no nostalgia for our childhood it was full of violence My Brilliant Friend is the story of two childhood friends Elena and Lila It is the first in a series and I confess that when I started reading it I did not intend to continue with them I was just going to read this first one did not intend to continue with them I was just going to read this first one see what all the fuss over Ferrante was about It took me a while to get into the book there are so many families in the neighborhood and veryone has nicknames that it was tough to remember who was who and who did what to which relative There is a cast of characters listed at the front of the book but it s still confusing About midway through the book I really connected with the two main characters "Especially After They Started Going "after they started going school I could relate to Elena s jealousy about Lila and how she admired and imitated her strength Occasionally Lila opens up and admits how important Elena is to her and those moments are lovely Ferrante s descriptions are so good that ventually it felt as if I had been living with these familiesBut what xactly is the story you ask Well there are lots of them There are stories about cruel boys in the neighborhood There are stories about Lila s dream of making it rich by designing special shoes to sell There are stories about the competitions at school and how Elena and Lila would push ach other to learn There are stories of Lila s family and how her father would abuse her when he lost his temper There are stories about the men who pursued Lila when she became a beautiful teenager and how she risked offending a powerful family There is the story of Elena s first boyfriend and how she has to navigate high school And finally there is the story of a weddingThe wedding scene is what closes out this first novel and something happens there that convinced me to read the second book You win FerranteUpdate A Few Weeks LaterI have gotten so involved in this series that I am reading Book 3 and have already ordered Book 4 My advice to those starting out is to be patient with this first novel a lot of the vents that happen in Elena s childhood have long lasting ffects like seeds that had to be planted so they could sprout later on The I read about these two women the I admire them I highly recommend these Ferrante novels Favorite uoteRight away from the first day school had seemed to me a much nicer place than home It was the place in the neighborhood where I felt safest I went there with xcitement I paid attention to the lessons I carried out with the greatest diligence verything that I was told to carry out I learned But most of all I liked pleasing the teacher I liked pleasing veryoneA Disturbing But Incredible PassageWe lived in a world in which children and adults were often wounded blood flowed from the wounds they festered and sometimes people died One of the daughters of Signora Assunta the fruit and vegetable seller had stepped on a nail and died of tetanus Signora Spagnuole s youngest child had died of croup A cousin of mine at the age of twenty had gone one morning to move some rubble and that night was dead crushed the blood pouring out of his ars and mouth My mother s father had been killed when he fell from a scaffolding at a building site The father of Signor Peluso was missing an arm the lathe had caught him unawares The sister of Giuseppina Signor Peluso s wife had died of tuberculosis at twenty two The oldest son of Don Achille I had never seen him and yet I seemed to remember him had gone to war and died twice drowned in the Pacific Ocean then aten by sharks The A Certain Justice (Adam Dalgliesh, entire Melchiorre family had died clinging toach other screaming with fear in a bombardment Old Signorina Clorinda had died inhaling gas instead of air Guanine who was in fourth grade when were were in first had died one day because he had come across a bomb and touched it Legion with whom we had played in the courtyard or maybe not she was only a name had died of typhus Our world was like that full of words that killed croup tetanus typhus gas war lathe rubble work bombardment bomb tuberculosis infection With these words and those years I bring back the many fears that accompanied me all my life. These two women Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that in turn also transform the relationship between her two protagonist. ,
I tried I tried I tried For 200 pages I tried to see what it is about this writer that gets such acclaim but with 130 pages to go I abandoned it there are just too many other books in my waiting pile that I want to read This book was chosen for book club which is why I persisted so long I normally stop reading a book pretty uickly if it doesn t The Shadow Reader engage me I didn t develop any concern for the characters and found it really repetitive different stage schoolsame response from parentssame competitiveness with Lila it just went on and on and didn t seem to GO anywhere It was supposed to be the story of a friendship from childhood until womanhood set in Naples in the 1950 s but I then discovered this book only goes up until the two girls are 16 there is a seuel and at that point I decided OH ENOUGH I realised I was notven going to get some sort of satisfaction from finishing it Endless minor characters proved annoying and I gave up trying to keep up with who they were despite the list in the front of the book as well as all the interludes with various boys type Cinderella Unmasked (Fairytale Fantasies edit delete undo delete typedit deletedeep breathstart againtype dit deletemake a coffeetype dit deletepour a drinktype The Power Of A Choice edit deletedesperation sets in The dog ate my review Why why why can t I find any words to say about this bookThe problem is I don t know what I feel about it In fact the book has left me without any feelings good or bad It has left me blank I m not used to feeling blank after readingI read Ferrante s The Days of Abandonment last year and I wasxcited while reading I felt very line of it intensely I was so stimulated by the writing the words and the dramatic tone seemed to match the pisodes of the narrative uite perfectly that I started writing the review ven before I d finished reading the book With this one I skimmed I nodded off I left it down often and only reluctantly picked it up again I finally finished it on a flight after I d deliberately not carried any other reading material with me In my desperation to find something to say about the book I ven thought about rereading it 1 sweet Jesusthis is the first of four books stars 2018 Read I was Most Afraid to Hate Award First of all a bit of translationIn English we say blahblahblah In Italian they say blablabla Ms Ferrante separates this book into two sections Childhood 18 chapters and Adolescence 62 chapters Childhood Ch 1 to 9 Ms Ferrante writes blablablablablablablablablab and blablablablablaJaidee God I hope this gets better Childhood Ch 10 14Ms Ferrante writes blablablablabla and blablablablablaJaidee This is boring me to tears Adolescence Ch 1 12Ms Ferrante writes bla bla bla bla bla bla blablaJaidee What s with the three creepy little girls with crinoline on the cover Adolescence Ch 13 36Ms Ferrante writes blablablablablabalbla blablablabla bla bla blaJaidee Oh I guess this about a lot of blablablawhen does it get goodforty three people and their mother insisted that I read this Adolescence Ch 37 to 54Ms Ferrante writes blablabla blabla bla blabla blaJaidee Please let this be over and What the fuck am I missingoh yes maybe a few blablablas Adolescence Ch 54 to 62Ms Ferrante writes Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla Jaidee Am I in Purgatory I am guessing the content of Books 2 through 4 will beBlablablablablabla and blablablablablabla I will not be finding out I say Bleh Bleh Blech 45 starsIf I were to describe Elena Ferrante s My Brilliant Friend in one word it would be mythic The minutiae of Elena and Lila s lives into which Ferrante dives takes on these mythic proportions pulling the reader along on a tense and frightful story But at first glance the story is anything but tense and frightful It s a story of female friendship between two lower class girls in Naples following WWII Ferrante with precision and passion recounts the lives of these girls as anything less than ideal There s an underlying push and pull to their friendship that goes against the The Case for Paleolibertarianism and Realignment on the Right expected narrative of girlhood It s compelling and constantly teetering on thedge of disaster again bringing back this theme of myth and how Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling each detail lends itself to something greater something disastrous We learn as the characters learn Ferrantexcels at Monsieur Pain establishing a tone fit to the story When Elena our narrator is unsure we are unsure When she s jealous we re jealous She s spiteful at times and compassionate at others It all builds upon itself to create a vivid atmosphere that is onlynhanced by the gritty Neapolitan setting I wasn t convinced by the first half of the book But the second part really sold me And I think that if I were to go back now and re read the beginning I d be much comfortable with the characters the setting and the narrative structure It s disconcerting and disorienting at first getting thrown into a world with so many characters and so little hand holding But I appreciate Ferrante s confidence in the reader She gives you than you might handle but once you get a grip on it it s incredibly satisfying I m intrigued to see where the story goes so much so that I ordered the next book in the series immediately after finishing this one I only xpect the books to get better and better and based on what Ferrante s proved with this one I m sure I won t be disappointedFirst read January 14 23 2016Second read December 23 26 2016Third read October 3 7 2018 When did we all start talking about Elena Ferrante guys I can t remember was it last year Maybe 2013 I know she s been writing for far longer than that but it was definitely only recently that she became A Thing Whenever it was we should have been talking about her sooner And with different words Better words Words whose value hasn t been sucked out by the marketing blurbs they with different words Better words Words whose value hasn t been sucked out by the marketing blurbs they been a part of with the same accompanying modifiers if I never hear compulsively readable again that would be okay with me marketing departments Too many yes will glaze over when I use these words that would once have xcited the grab the keys and run to the bookstore response this book deserves And that might make you like me not pick this up for absolutely years after you read thisSo I need better words Words that will make you pick it up tomorrow Because I still can t believe I somehow developed the impression that this was a book that I could miss How did I somehow think this wasn t a series of books that I should have had on pre order very time like it was Game of Thrones or you know something better than that given the uality of the last installmentBut in the absence of an unused vocabulary floating around somewhere I ll try to convince you with the words I have because and please read this in the tone of your dad giving advice at a crucial life moment I don t want you to make the mistakes that I did sonny boy How do I love this novel Let me count the ways My Brilliant Friend is the first installment of Ferrante s Neapolitan trilogy It is an old woman s memories of her friendship with a girl named Lila in the slums of 1950s Naples They are both clever girls growing up in the midst of a grinding cycle of poverty and isolation generated by the problems of the post war post Fascist Italian state and the pre war mostly in name only Italian unification Both of them along with the "other children of the neighborhood have a possibility of scaping the cycle and breaking out into the new Marshall Plan supported "children of the neighborhood have a possibility of scaping the cycle and breaking out into the new Marshall Plan supported vita and some of the story is about that But not mostly Mostly it s about what it s like to be blessedcursed Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. enough to have a childhood friend who is the center of your universe and how that friendship can literally change all the things in your life and make you the person that you are in the process of becoming Straightforwardnough yes You ve read that before Surebut then why is it so poignant Why did I spend hours upon hours with this book yesterday unable to put it down How did such an ordinary story work such undeniable magicThere are many answers to that but let s start with this The story The plot was the most natural organic thing I ve ver read She started telling it and kept on doing it without pauses for literary reflections or metaphors or for pretty much anything that might send the oh right this is fiction signal to your brain She let the damn thing be and run its course without interfering She didn t shy away from hav. A modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors My Brilliant Friend is a rich intense and generous hearted story about two friends Elena and Lila Ferrante's inimitable. .
Ing her character be involved in all the uotidian things of childhood or adolescence zits dresses best friends boyfriends finding out what bad words mean and ndless status competitions But never once did she make it feel tired or like something I ve read a zillion times Nobody came uipped with signifier clue words or pre packaged recognizable YA storylines with immature motional truths being repeated in italics in between descriptions of clothing and hair And you know what was fascinating There totally was a popular girl Glitter Bomb (A Scrapbooking Mystery, everyone wanted here there were mean bullies nerdy intellectuals hot jocks slutty cheerleaders apparently motivationlessly awful villains and our heroine wasven intellectual and had glasses But that never occurred to me until I started to write this reviewThis is mostly because Ferrante allows her characters a kind of full honest Il morto di Maigret emotional range ofxpression that I ve rarely seen in books about children and teenagers She conveys the pettiness and center of the universe feeling that characterizes childhood without ver uite making you detach from or become disgusted with the characters involved When someone s doll is thrown away and another character retaliates instead of rolling her yes and refereeing whose fault it is Ferrante just keeps staring at both characters and watching them go through that moment and what happens afterwards There s no adult intervention whether that s with an adult character or with an adult narratorAs is typical with Ferrante this is deliberate a choice that serves several purposes at once One of which is to highlight the lack of fully developed adults anywhere in these children s lives This is one of the many ffective ways Ferrante finds to seep you in the atmosphere of the Naples neighborhood where this all takes place right from the beginning but beautifully dropping it in between the cracks of action and thought I waited to see if Lila would have second thoughts and turn back I knew what she wanted to do I had hoped that she would forget about it but in vain The street lamps were not yet lit nor were the lights on the stairs From the apartments came irritable voices To follow Lila I had to leave the bluish light of the courtyard and nter the black of the doorway When I finally made up my mind I saw nothing at first there was only an odor of old junk and DDT Then I got used to the darkness We kept to the side where the wall was she two steps ahead I two steps behind torn between shortening the distance or letting it increase I can still feel my shoulder inching along the flaking wall and the idea that the steps were very high higher than my own apartment across the way There was an odor of saut ing garlic Maria Don Achille s wife would put me in the pan of boiling oil the children would Globalization: A Multi-Dimensional System, Third Edition eat me he would suck my head the way my father did with mullets Never once does she need to set aside pages and pages of description as some authors do because it s given to us in pieces like that while we re following the action until we have a full picture of a crumbling courtyard of a creaky old apartment building on a beaten down street in a bad part of town withoutver really knowing how we got thereShe also does a lot Billionaires Contract Engagement (Kings of the Boardroom effectively with repetition Repetition shows us a lot about why the characters are the way that they are The violence of the neighborhood in particular is depicted with a frighteningly normalizing banality We see violence happen over and over again not as an isolated cinematic horror the fright of one s life as something mentioned as an afterthought they argued and then sometimes after dinner he beat her The deliberate use of sometimes was chilling like we re notven hearing about all the other times when it happens It s not Sexual Secrets even worthy of comment What sven terrifying is the dispassionate impartial gaze turned on it by a narrator who has never known anything different It only occurs to the sixty year old character who is the actual narrator of the story about two thirds of the way through to get outside of herself and mention that she realizes now that her neighborhood was not the norm it s like in telling the story she put herself back under the spell and forgot that herself It takes something 2015 Hollywood level cinematically publicly violent for anyone to feel the slightest bit bad about something that happens view spoiler like throwing your leven year old daughter out a window into the street hide spoiler I received this book as a Christmas present from my boss over a year ago In fact veryone in the office received a copy that s how much our boss wanted us to read it Before you start wondering what sort of wonderful place I worked at let me clarify it was a literary agency so such things were totally commonplace So despite the terrible cover and a rather idiotic blurb I knew it
"Would Be A Fine BookNo "be a fine bookNo of Ferrante s book is complete without a mention of how no one knows who Ferrante is or ven if she xists as an individual woman at all Personally I find this whole mystery of little interest as I share her view that all that the author wants to say she should say in the book and there is no need for the ntire marketing circusFerrante s Naples novels have been compared to Knausgaard s magnum opus because both authors can be characterised by their hyperreal scrutiny which seemingly can only be achieved in autobiographical novels The autobiographical component is official in case of Knausgaard and alleged in Ferrante s Additionally Knausgaard has happily joined the marketing circus which is why I find Ferrante s presumed xhibitionism a lot palatable These books defiantly ignore all creative writing advice and cheerfully tell and not show abandon all sensible plot structure and introduce as many characters as they feel like not really caring whether that whole cast is in any way necessary Neither do they have time for stylistic flourishes Ferrante s prose is bare the language takes a back seat and is nothing than a tool to the narrative that is pushed forward by its own urgency What we are left with though is so vivid and authentic that no carefully polished novel could compete with it This is great news Rejoice people because in the age when it is possible to get a DEGREE in novel writing without having to write anything of significance comes a book which just doesn t give a shit and still manages to steal the hearts of thousands I don t suppose I have to xplain what this book is about because you have other reviews for that But in short it s about the intense friendship and rivalry between two girls growing up in the impoverished outskirts "Of Naples You Might "Naples You might it s a book about female xperience and to an The West Transformed: A History of Western Civilization, Vol 1, to 1715 extent it certainly is but judging by how much men love this book I d say it s rather universal But then I generally feel femalexperience once stripped of all telling signs could be pretty universal because you know women are people too Anyway to me this book was about class than gender That constant anger violence the let s get them before they get us feel permeates the novel And the moral if My Brilliant Friend has a moral at all is that you can take a girl out of the Naples slums but you can t take the Naples slums out of the girl Make no mistake though This is by no means an motionally manipulative misery memoir This is a story of childhood that simply doesn t know it s underprivileged I have been studying Italian in my free time and so decided to try reading one of the most popular Italian writers of today Elena Ferrante There have been many articles about this author s mysterious anonymity Her real identity is unknown xcept to her publisher because she wishes to have a normal life I get that Still it only adds to the intrigue as you can t help but wonder who writes these marvelous books My Brilliant Friend is not the sort of book I would normally pick up as I prefer fantasy fiction This is contempora UPDATED November 2018 here s my review of the new HBO miniseries Hint It s just as good as the book My Brilliant Friend aka My Brilliant New ObsessionBelieve all the hype This is a rich immersive deeply satisfying book that like many great novels captures a particular time and place with complete authority I can t wait to read the other books in the series In a dirt poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship Through the lives of. ,