‘The Story of a New Name’ by Elena Ferrante

the-story-of-new-namestarstarstar(Neapolitan Quartet, Book 2) This is the second in the Neapolitan series, a rich and intimate portrait of a female friendship in a poor neighbourhood in Naples. The novel opens with Lina (Lila) now Signora Carracci, a married woman albeit to a man she doesn’t love and doesn’t respect. Her new life is explored largely through the eyes of and in the context of her relationship with her friend Elena (Lenu).

The story carries on seamlessly from My Brilliant Friend, again drawing the reader into that time and place in small town Italy. For the women in these novels, life is a conundrum of attachment and detachment and there are very few likeable characters in these books at all, especially among the men. Though the author’s unusual voice is emotionally compelling, it is difficult to continue to enjoy reading about so much strife and unhappiness. It’s really such an odd reading experience, with major twists and turns that feel understated, and long mental meanderings about things that we wouldn’t give a second thought to. I may take a break before reading number three. I have heard from others that the third book is very slow and begins to annoy, but if you have read it and think differently, please leave a comment and let me know.

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