My Brilliant Friend
Okay, I know I'm behind on the Ferrante craze. But I finally had the chance to pick up the first of the "Neopalitan Novels," a series of four books tracing the friendship and lives of two girls from Naples, Italy, and I liked it!!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and was certainly wrapped up in the lives of Lila & Elena, but I did not initially understand what the hype was all about. It took me a while to get into the storyline, and it sort of plodded along for a bit. I also sometimes lost track of the characters - but that is probably a factor of how quickly I read more than anything else.
There's one line from the New York Review of Books review that speaks to My Brilliant Friend: "The characters, like those of the ancients, are forever negotiating between destinies that might be prescribed from the outset and their own attempts to gain some element of mastery over their fates." The two girls try to defy their own situation. Elena stays in school and becomes the top of her class. The book ends with Lila's marriage at only 16 years old. The more I think about the book, the more I realized I enjoyed this honest portrait of all the rivalry and jealousy that is tied up in female friendship. I wish I had gone in with lower expectations; a part of me was expecting to be blown away by the genius of Ferrante. While that didn't quite happen - I did really enjoy reading it. The story, at its core, is one of growing up and womanhood, and I look forward to reading the next three in the series.