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Rebecca McCormick. Powered by Blogger.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - Review

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

I heard about this book because I was watching Write Around the World with Richard E Grant, which was basically an excuse for him to go on holiday and swan about talking about books. Anyway he was in Naples and he mentioned this book, and I was intrigued, so I requested it at the library. It took me quite a while to read it, because it's really dense, but I did like it. It's the first in a series and I'm not sure if I will get round to the rest of them, but I wouldn't be opposed to it!

The book is set in Naples, in a poor neighbourhood. The narrator is Elena, the eldest in her family. Her mother is disabled; her father works as a porter in the city. Her best friend is Lila, whose father is a shoemaker, and whose brother Rino joins him in the family shop after school. The book is set in the late 1950s. Elena and Lila have many neighbourhood friends, but always come back to each other. After their compulsory schooling, Lila leaves school even though she is clever, cleverer than Elena. A teacher insists to Elena's parents that she continue in school. She does, and eventually even goes to high school. 

Their lives diverge and at times Lila seems disengaged from their friendship, but Elena remains loyal to her through periods, acne, first boyfriends, and growing up. From the beginning of the book we know that they're still friends as old women - Lila's son phones Elena to tell her that his mother is missing, and so begins Elena's recounting of their whole lives.

I loved the setting - I could just imagine the neighbourhood and the houses and apartments, and the neighbours that Elena tells us about. I liked how she grew away, how she studied and could hold her own against her teachers. I liked the boys she fell in love with and her trip to Ischia. I am giving this four out of five - it's a total epic and I wanted to know what happened. 

1 comment

  1. You can always watch the TV show if you want to find out what happens without reading the rest! I love it and they've done the next 2 books so far with the last coming.

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