The Story of the Lost Child is the long-awaited fourth volume in the Neapolitan Novels (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay). The quartet traces the friendship between Elena and Lila, from their childhood in a poor neighbourhood in Naples, to their thirties, when both women are mothers but each has chosen a different path. Their lives are still inextricably linked, for better or worse, especially when it comes to the drama of a lost child.
Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. She is the author of seven novels: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter, and the quartet of Neapolitan novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. Fragments, a selection of interviews, letters and occasional writings by Ferrante, will be published in early 2016.
She is one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors.
Ann Goldstein has translated all of Elena Ferrante’s work. She is an editor at the New Yorker and a recipient of the PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Prize.
‘The best thing I’ve read this year, far and away…She puts most other writing at the moment in the shade. She’s marvellous.’ Richard Flanagan
‘Ferrante tackles girlhood and friendship with amazing force.’ Gwyneth Paltrow
‘Read My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante—the Jane Austen of Italy.’ Jeffrey Archer
‘In the past decade, no fiction writer has made it more necessary to think about the performative aspect of being a woman than Elena Ferrante. Her novels, written originally in Italian and translated beautifully by Ann Goldstein, are ferociously engaged with the ways in which a woman—as a daughter, a teenager, a lover, and, most dramatically, a mother—is a kind of person in drag, speaking through a costume that slowly becomes all that one knows of her…It’s Ferrante’s ability to capture both the mirror and the woman standing before it that makes her a writer to be reckoned with.’ John Freeman
‘Nothing you read about Elena Ferrante’s work prepares you for the ferocity of it…This is a woman’s story told with such truthfulness that it is not so much a life observed as it is felt.’ New York Times
‘There is nothing remotely tiring or trying about the experience of reading the Neapolitan novels, which I, and a great many others, now rank among our greatest book-related pleasures…it is writing that holds honesty dear.’ Weekend Australian
‘This stunning conclusion further solidifies the Neapolitan novels as Ferrante’s masterpiece and guarantees that this reclusive author will remain far from obscure for years to come.’ Publishers Weekly
In Ferrante's fourth and final Neapolitan novel, she reunites Elena, the accomplished writer, with Lila, the indomitable spirit, in their Southern Italian city as they confront maturity and old age, death, and the meaning of life. The two friends face the chaos of a corrupt and decaying Naples while the lives of the people closest to them plagued by abandonment, imprisonment, murder, and betrayal spiral out of control. "Where is it written that lives should have a meaning?" Lila asks Elena, disparaging her friend's career choice in the process. Readers will need the accompanying index of characters to keep track as Ferrante resolves the themes and events from earlier titles (My Brilliant Friend; The Story of a New Name; Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay) with a force and ferocity recalling the devastating earthquake of 1980 and Vesuvius's volcanic eruptions, which themselves provide the unsettling background to the narrative. Ferrante's precise foreshadowing is such that an early incident of a lost doll in book one mirrors the lost child in book four right down to their shared first name and "The Blue Fairy," the story Lila scribbled in a childhood notebook that Elena threw in the Arno, resurfaces in this installment's final pages. Throughout, there's the sense of the circle completing: near the end, Elena pens a short novel entitled "A Friendship" (a metafictional nod to Ferrante's series as a whole), inspired by her half-century relationship with Lila. The novel is Elena's final work and permanently ties Elena and Lila together, for better and worse. This stunning conclusion further solidifies the Neapolitan novels as Ferrante's masterpiece and guarantees that this reclusive author will remain far from obscure for years to come.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A truly major work
The honesty and complexity and uncertainty could not make for a more complete literary experience
I will miss Lenu and Lila so much. What a well written and engaging story. Thank you 'Elena'.