Now an HBO series, book one in the New York Times bestselling Neapolitan quartet about two friends growing up in post-war Italy is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted family epic by Italy’s most beloved and acclaimed writer, Elena Ferrante, “one of the great novelists of our time.” (Roxana Robinson, The New York Times)
Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its protagonists, the fiery and unforgettable Lila, and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflictual friendship. Book one in the series follows Lila and Elena from their first fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence.
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.
“An intoxicatingly furious portrait of enmeshed friends,” writes Entertainment Weekly. “Spectacular,” says Maureen Corrigan on NPR’s Fresh Air. “A large, captivating, amiably peopled bildungsroman,” writes James Wood in The New Yorker
Ferrante is one of the world’s great storytellers. With My Brilliant Friend she has given her readers an abundant, generous, and masterfully plotted page-turner that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight readers for many generations to come.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Elena Ferrante is an international woman of mystery—the Italian author has remained hidden behind a pen name despite writing multiple bestsellers. But that’s the least interesting thing about this amazing novel, the first in a four-book series about Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo. We meet these complicated girl heroines in the aftermath of World War II, navigating first crushes and stark class divisions. As Ferrante introduces dozens more characters equally as nuanced, we slipped into the rhythm of Naples alongside them. Coming-of-age novels sometimes romanticize women’s friendships, but not My Brilliant Friend, a quasi-autobiographical tale that’s ferociously vivid.
The arresting third novel from pseudonymous Italian novelist Ferrante (Troubling Love) pursues a divorced, 47-year-old academic s deeply conflicted feelings about motherhood to their frightening core. While on vacation by herself on the Ionian coast, Leda feels contentedly disburdened of her two 20-something daughters, who have moved to their father s city of Toronto. She s soon engrossed in watching the daily drama of Nina, a young mother, with her young daughter, Elena (along with Elena s doll, Nani), at the seashore. Surrounded by proprietary Neapolitan relatives and absorbed in her daughter s care, Nina at first strikes Leda as the perfect mother, reminding herself of when she was a new and hopeful parent. Leda s eventual acquaintance with Nina yields a disturbing confession and sets in motion a series of events that threatens to wreck, or save, the integrity of Nina s family. Ferrante s prose is stunningly candid, direct and unforgettable. From simple elements, she builds a powerful tale of hope and regret.