Much as Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels have become a publishing juggernaut, it is impossible not to read the saga of two best friends’ fitful journeys through post-war Italy without a sense of intimacy and deep emotional connection. Luminously written and expertly translated, My Brilliant Friend begins the epic bildungsroman not just of Elena and Lila but of the Italian nation itself.
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We were twelve years old, but we walked along the hot streets of the neighborhood, amid the dust and flies that the occasional old trucks stirred up as they passed, like two old ladies taking the measure of lives of disappointment, clinging tightly to each other. No one understood us, only we two—I thought—understood one another.
The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other.
They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.
Publisher: Europa Editions (UK) Ltd
Number of pages: 331
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm
'...these delicious novels are some of the best I have ever read. A vivid portrait of female friendship sweeps from childhood in the back streets of impoverished Naples during the 1950s through the Twentieth Century and their love affairs, marriages, motherhood. Passionate, intense, full of suspense and cinematic detail, these astonishing novels will keep you gripped throughout the summer.' - Kate Figes, The Daily Mail
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“Every bit brilliant!”
I was kindly sent a reading copy of Ferrante's first Neapolitan novel. What struck me from the outset was the beautiful writing style and evocative descriptive language Ferrante has, Naples came to life... More
“About as good as fiction gets.”
This book is something very special, although, if pushed, I would find it very difficult to point out any one specific thing that Ferrante does better than her peers. She writes well and, while I was never really... More
“A stark, honest exploration of friendship in 50’s Naples”
Elena Greco is endlessly fascinated by her friend Lila, the daughter of a shoemaker and a flame that everybody else in their rundown area of Naples also seems drawn to. ‘My Brilliant Friend’ explores the lives of... More
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