Because A Little Life was overwhelming me, I decided to switch to the Neapolitan series, which I loved since beginning in My Brilliant Friend.
Once again I have been pulled into a wonderful world, of which I find it hard to take a break from.
“The second book, following 2012’s acclaimed My Brilliant Friend, featuring the two friends Lila and Elena. The two protagonists are now in their twenties. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila. Meanwhile, Elena continues her journey of self-discovery. The two young women share a complex and evolving bond that brings them close at times, and drives them apart at others. Each vacillates between hurtful disregard and profound love for the other. With this complicated and meticulously portrayed friendship at the center of their emotional lives, the two girls mature into women, paying the sometimes cruel price that this passage exacts.” GoodReads.
Departing the telling of their childhood, the worlds of Lila and Elena begin to expand. The Story of a New Name moves through issues of Politics, class, poverty, religion within and outside of Italy. It’s a complex and adept historical retelling within fiction.
Lila is unhappily married while Elena is allowed to enjoy her innocence and continue studying (though, she perhaps does not perceive it this way). Ferrante cleverly captures the insecurity of friendship, how you can feel like an outsider or worthless no matter how hard you try. Lila is a difficult, but inescapable friend. She sparks the creativity and intelligence within Elena, without which Elena would not be who she is. However, you never feel as though without Elena Lila would be anything but Lila.
Elena’s insecurities, her self-doubt is so vivid it mirrors the readers. Though Elena and are are different, not only in terms of existence but in her upbringing, I sometimes feel as though we think the same. There is no triviality to anything that occurs in this novel, nor in the style of writing.
What I love most about Ferrante’s writing is the depiction of Elena, who is as real in fiction as people are to me outside of it. She is flawed in complicated and human ways, and those flaws mean there are times when you feel little to no sympathy for her at all. Ferrante leaves the reader with a feeling that this story could progress in a myriad of ways, not just in the one in which flows. So many forks in the road are faced, and I was left feeling as though Ferrante would have had the answers if Elena or Lila made a different decision.
The translation is beautiful. While it’s unlikely I’ll understand the Italian to compare, I feel Ann Goldstein has written a loquacious account of friendship, Itlay and politics of the late 60s.
There is a chance I may merge this book with Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay – which I read straight after. I had to continue! I’ve begun the forth and final book, The Story of the Lost Child, and I am certain it won’t disappoint.