Title: My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels 1-4)
Author: Elena Ferrante
Published: 2012. – 2015..
Publisher: Penguin Random House
“When there is no love, not only the life of the people becomes sterile but the life of cities.”
Why, oh why, has this one been sitting on my shelf for almost two years? And all the time I was thinking that my friends dont have a clue when they praised this book. I silently judged them thinking it was depressing and boring.
But guess what I will say 4 books and almost 2 thousand pages later?
Damn I was wrong.
Its interesting. Its atmospheric. Its real. There is no fooling around – what you see is what you get. You want a picture of life in Naples in 1950? You got it.
Through the eyes of a little girl you will meet a whole neighbourhood. Everybody knows everybody’s business. Even the children that have their own explanations of the adult world. They are loud, they are feisty, they are proud, they are romantic. Sometimes they act foolish, sometimes they act stupid. You will meet our narrator – Elena, and her best friend Lila. So similar but so different. Their friendship through life is the essence of this book. The jelaousy. The silent rivalry. The love. The attachment. Each has its own flaws, none is perfect. But still, they are both just girls trying to find their way in the world that surrounds them.
Maybe the reason I loved it is because it reminded me of my childhood. Of my friends. Of the way of life back then..the simpler one. Of the proud men. Of the poverty. And about small delights in life.
There were times I hated these books and its characters for all their, in the end, human, characteristics – their selfishness, vanity, profanity and lack of of empathy. But then, the friendship between Elena and Lila was such a magnetic force one just couldn’t get out of. Best friends, rivals, polar opposites but then so alike, and a relationship that is in a way a world of its own….a conundrum not even its subjects can get a hold of.
What is real and what is not? Where is the boundary between the truth and fiction? Whose story it actually is – one of the characters or the one of the writer? Who is Elena Ferrante we might never find out. Just as well as the fact if the stories she told us are a complete work of fiction or a biographical display of a town in a certain period of time. Nonetheless it is truly a captivating story worth reading.
My GR rating: 4.5 stars