I read this book in three days. Mostly because it was due back at the library and I couldn’t renew it as some other Ferrante fan was waiting for it. Or at least someone had it on hold and I’m guessing that person is a Ferrante fan because this book is the second in the series.
And really there ought to be more Ferrante fans in the world.
Or at least in the bookish parts of the world.
Because Ferrante is…
Her series is set in a small town in Naples and tells of a friendship between two women, Lenu and Lila. The first book in the series, My Brilliant Friend (my thoughts), talks about their childhood. And in this second book, the story continues through their young adult years. She completely absorbs the reader in their lives, in their friendship, in their emotions and their world. It is engaging, compelling, and all those other ‘-ing’ words that publishers splatter on book covers to entice readers to pick up a book. She is quite simply fabulous.
Her characters are full of life. They run through a gamut of emotions as their relationships takes dramatic twists and turns. This is not a quiet book, despite its rather subdued cover. It is bursting with colour and vivacity, with the smells and tastes and sights of life in Naples.
And by that I mean that her writing is easy to read. Nothing overwrought or overwritten. Of course I possibly mean that her translator’s translation is easy to read.
Well, sort of, in that the third book in her Neapolitan series, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, has been shortlisted for the 2015 Tournament of Books
Elena Ferrante is not her real name. She’s never been photographed or interviewed in person and has apparently never made a public appearance. Who is she? No one seems to know. Or at least those who are in the know don’t seem to want to let the rest of us know.
She explains in an email interview with the New York Times:
“If I may, I didn’t choose anonymity; the books are signed. Instead, I chose absence. More than 20 years ago I felt the burden of exposing myself in public. I wanted to detach myself from the finished story. I wanted the books to assert themselves without my patronage.”
Well, whoever Ferrante really is, whatever her name really is, I’m all in! As the Boston Globe put it:
“Everyone should read anything with Ferrante’s name on it.”
I second that!
L’amore molesto (1992; English translation: Troubling Love, 2006)
I giorni dell’abbandono (2002; English translation: The Days of Abandonment, 2005)
La frantumaglia (2003; English translation Fragments, 2013)
La figlia oscura (2006; English translation: The Lost Daughter, 2008)
Ayaam Al-Hijraan (2007)
La spiaggia di notte (2007)
L’amica geniale (2011; English translation: My Brilliant Friend, 2012)
Storia del nuovo cognome, L’amica geniale volume 2 (2012; English translation: The Story of a New Name, 2013)
Storia di chi fugge e di chi resta, L’amica geniale volume 3 (2013; English translation: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, 2014)
Storia della bambina perduta, L’amica geniale volume 4 (2014; English translation: The Story of the Lost Child, 2015)
(untitled), L’amica geniale volume 5 (2015)
This is the second book I read for the Books in Translation Reading Challenge