(Neapolitan Quartet, Book 1) This is the story of two girls in a poor, rough neighbourhood outside Naples, Italy. Growing up on tough often violent streets, the girls learn to rely on each other but they are also often at odds or in competition, as young girls will naturally be. The author does an amazing job of describing this lifelong and complicated but touching relationship between two very different women. In this coming-of-age story, Ferrante captures the angst and longing of adolescence and the fraught relationships that are complicated by circumstance and family interactions in small town Europe. This is definitely not chick lit, it is a rich literary work and it is just the beginning of the saga of Lila and Elena. There are three more books in the series which will carry on into the rest of their lives. The next one is called The Story of a New Name.
These great Italian novels have taken the books industry by storm, everyone is talking about them. I liked this book a lot and will definitely carry on with the series. It is quite character driven and doesn’t have much plot except for the intrigue within the lives of the people in the town. The author masterfully drew me in and I appreciated her intensely personal, yet unsentimental, portrait of a friendship and the fascinating portrayal of Italy in the 50s. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the author, who has not revealed herself publicly. The author’s real name is not Elena Ferrante. Recently CBC interviewed the translator of the books, who also does not know who the real author is.
Here is an excerpt which you might enjoy listening to, to get a flavour of the writing: