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My Brilliant Friend

Book 1, Neapolitan Novels - Neapolitan Novels, Book One

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Description

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 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.
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.

Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a tetralogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 27, 2012 – The world of Elena and Lila, Neapolitan girls growing up after the Second World War, is small, casually violent, and confined to their poor neighborhood where everyone knows everyone and the few prosperous families dominate. There are rules and expectations, and everyone knows and lives by them. Except Lila: smarter and bolder than the others, she does what she wants, drawing Elena, who narrates the story, in her wake. But this is more than a conventional up-from-poverty tale. Elena completes her schooling; Lila does not. Elena leaves the neighborhood and eventually Naples and Southern Italy; Lila does not. Yet it is Lila and her dreams and caprices that drive everything. In fact, the narrative exists because the adult Elena, hearing that Lila has disappeared, decides to write Lila’s story. And she does, in dense, almost sociological detail (the list of the members of the key families is actually necessary). This is both fascinating—two girls, their families, a neighborhood, and a nation emerging from war and into an economic boom—and occasionally tedious, as day-to-day life can be. But Lila, mercurial, unsparing, and, at the end of this first episode in a planned trilogy from Ferrante (The Lost Daughter), seemingly capable of starting a full-scale neighborhood war, is a memorable character.

Customer Reviews

Be Italian

A very different style than English novels and therefore worthwhile for those interested in foreign travel through reading books. This novel is narrated by a central character telling the story of her young Neapolitan life in the 60's. The brilliant friend, Lila, is a study of one who has incredible intellectual and intuitive gifts but who is shackled by poverty to a predictable life in the depressing neighborhood.
The novel shows a side of Italy rarely seen or felt.

A brilliant book

Ferrante has a unique style: unblinking, unadorned, and honest. Her Neapolitan, working class heroine has keen intelligence, but also an innocent's mindset as she tries to make meaning of the harsh realities of her life, and aims to honor the admirable friendship to her confidante and role model Lila. She creates a believable consciousness of the early teen years and reminds the adult reader how powerful and all encompassing the demands of friendship are for the young. She also evokes the quiddity of mid-twentieth century Naples. A book like no other I have read. I can't wait to read the companion volumes.

Could not get into it

Read about half and stopped. I do not get the positive reviews that prompted me to buy it.

My Brilliant Friend
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Sep 25, 2012
  • Publisher: Europa
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: Book 1, Neapolitan Novels
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings