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Not sure I would have picked this book as the cover made me wary but it was highly recommended for a book club read and by my daughter who has read all four books of the quartet.

I didn’t find it easy to get into at the start and I would suggest anyone who struggles tries to stick with it as it definitely improves. The first thing to note is the number of characters, hence front pages devoted to telling the reader who they are! It certainly helped!

Lenu and Lila, two little girls growing up in a poor neighbourhood of Naples post Second World War. The violence of the district and family life is the first thing that struck me about the book and how difficult it was to break out of the neighbourhood unless through education. Lenu and Lila, both highly intelligent girls, have a close but competitive friendship where one is allowed to continue her education and one is not.

This is the first novel of a quartet and has an HBO series on Sky Atlantic which is very closely aligned to the book and I thoroughly recommend watching if you can. Some member said of Gloucester Book Club scored it 10 and some scored it 2 so you can see how much our scores reflects the love/hate relationship this novel provoked in a few. Most of our group scored in the middle range. It may not suit everyone but it’s beautifully written in parts and well worth considering.

The first part of the Neapolitan series sets up a beautiful story even if its incompleteness rancors as one reaches the end.

The most beautiful part of the story is the way it is told: in a simple, anecdotal way without any intention of moving towards any climax. One is made to live in the 1950s Naples along with the kids who are continuously discovering themselves. Their interpersonal is relentlessly evolving, once again without any finality. At times, they are learning and playing together. At times, they are competing and quarrelling. They are being shaped by their parents' histories and the continuously changing sociopolitical and economic environment around them. They are almost the first generation being made to go through the formal schooling from their societies with the usual doubts that must have existed and also all the excitement.

The mainstay of the story is the friendship and the rivalry between the two protagonists. Once again, a complete lack of any end goal allows the author to toy around (real life like, if not real) on their interpersonal in the most engaging way. For a while, one is enviously respectful of the other and before the reader knows it, it is the other way around. Their insecurities are laid bare in refreshing and often surprising ways through mundane interactions. A lot of characters come and go, once again like real life, but they all add to a good portrayal of study life. The book is particularly commended for mingling the usual adolescent rivalry, fuelled by the wish to one-up the other in the studies, with the effects of the surrounding poverty.

The end of the book makes sense only when one is someway through in the second, but otherwise it is likely to appear extremely abrupt.


The first part of the Neapolitan series sets up a beautiful story even if its incompleteness rancors as one reaches the end.

The most beautiful part of the story is the way it is told: in a simple, anecdotal way without any intention of moving towards any climax. One is made to live in the 1950s Naples along with the kids who are continuously discovering themselves. Their interpersonal is relentlessly evolving, once again without any finality. At times, they are learning and playing together. At times, they are competing and quarrelling. They are being shaped by their parents' histories and the continuously changing sociopolitical and economic environment around them. They are almost the first generation being made to go through the formal schooling from their societies with the usual doubts that must have existed and also all the excitement.

The mainstay of the story is the friendship and the rivalry between the two protagonists. Once again, a complete lack of any end goal allows the author to toy around (real life like, if not real) on their interpersonal in the most engaging way. For a while, one is enviously respectful of the other and before the reader knows it, it is the other way around. Their insecurities are laid bare in refreshing and often surprising ways through mundane interactions. A lot of characters come and go, once again like real life, but they all add to a good portrayal of study life. The book is particularly commended for mingling the usual adolescent rivalry, fuelled by the wish to one-up the other in the studies, with the effects of the surrounding poverty.

The end of the book makes sense only when one is someway through in the second, but otherwise it is likely to appear extremely abrupt.

Reacties op: Detailes, absorbing, mesmerizing,

10
My brilliant friend - Elena Ferrante
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