(Review) My Brilliant Friend: Book One of the Neapolitan Novels, Childhood, Adolescence by Elena Ferrante
Publisher: Europa Editions.
Rating: 3 Stars for good.
My Brilliant Friend is book one in a four part series covering the lives of two girls who grow up best friends. Their names are Lina or Lila, and Elena. They meet in the first grade. They live in a neighborhood in Naples, Italy. The time period is the 1950s. Lila has an older brother. Elena has younger siblings. Lila is a beautiful and delicate looking girl, but with nerves of steal. Elena is an avid reader and intelligent, she easily promotes in school.
Their friendship develops and continues through the trials of: family problems, neighborhood kids, puberty, boys, higher learning or work, and decisions about future lives.
The story is told by the character Elena.
This is the second book I've read by Elena Ferrante. The previous book was The Days of Abandonment.
I've noticed in both books a strong element is emotion; it's raw, transparent, and at times difficult to digest.
There were moments while reading the book when I was exhausted by the constant state of Elena's every thought. Her over-thinking and analyzing is propelled by an obsession with her friend Lila. She worries about Lila. She wonders if Lila has made the right decisions. She compares her body and face to the thinner and beautiful Lila. She realizes boys notice Lila more.
Their relationship is complicated, and dependent on one another. It appears more so on the part of Elena.
Elena has the ability because of her intelligence and hard work, to be independent of men and a life most females traditionally choose, marriage and family. Whereas Lila does not have this option.
There is an undertone Lila's home life is hiding a secret. I wonder if future books will reveal this?
I might read more books by Elena Ferrante, but at this time I'm going to pass. I need a breather.