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, who represent the story of a nation and 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—and 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.
With My Brilliant Friend, the first in a series, Ferrante proves herself to be one of Italy’s greatest storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations—a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her work.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We didn’t fall for Italian author Elena Ferrante just because of her myth-making anonymity—she’s a genuinely brilliant writer. My Brilliant Friend is the first book in the Neapolitan series about Elena and Lila, who grow up in a poor, violent ’50s Naples neighborhood and form a lifelong friendship and intense rivalry. The characters’ rough circumstances are definitely moving, but Ferrante’s clear-eyed prose wipes away any trace of sentimentality: Family vendettas become scary myths, and school is a competitive war zone that’s especially brutal for girls. Voice actress Hillary Huber does a good job capturing the subtleties of the two girls’ tricky relationship.