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L’amica geniale #2

The Story of a New Name

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In 2012, Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend introduced readers to the unforgettable Elena and Lila, whose lifelong friendship provides the backbone for the Neapolitan Novels. The Story of a New Name is the second book in this series. With these books, which the New Yorker's James Wood described as "large, captivating, amiably peopled ... a beautiful and delicate tale of confluence and reversal," Ferrante proves herself to be one of Italy's most accomplished storytellers. She writes vividly about a specific neighborhood of Naples from the late-1950s through to the current day and about two remarkable young women who are very much the products of that place and time. Yet in doing so she has created a world in which readers will recognize themselves and has drawn a marvelously nuanced portrait of friendship.

In The Story of a New Name, Lila has recently married and made her entrée into the family business; Elena, meanwhile, continues her studies and her exploration of the world beyond the neighborhood that she so often finds stifling. Love, jealousy, family, freedom, commitment, and above all friendship: these are signs under which both women live out this phase in their stories. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila, and the pressure to excel is at times too much for Elena. Yet the two young women share a complex and evolving bond that is central to their emotional lives and is a source of strength in the face of life's challenges. In these Neapolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante, the acclaimed author of The Days of Abandonment, gives readers a poignant and universal story about friendship and belonging.

471 pages, Paperback

First published September 22, 2012

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About the author

Elena Ferrante

47 books13.9k followers
Elena Ferrante is a pseudonymous Italian novelist. Ferrante's books, originally published in Italian, have been translated into many languages. Her four-book series of Neapolitan Novels are her most widely known works.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 10,725 reviews
Profile Image for Francesca Marciano.
Author 18 books246 followers
January 6, 2014
I finished Elena Ferrante's second volume a few hours ago and I'm overwhelmed by her power. She writes with her fingers stuck inside a electric plug. She drills and drills all the way through the tiniest sensation, till she reaches raw matter. The story of the New Name is even more entrancing than My brilliant friend, the first volume of the trilogy, which I devoured. Lila and Lena, the two protagonists of volume one, are now two women. Their love hate relationship grows more intricate, so does their intellectual competition. What a wonderful, deep, contradictory, at times morbid, violent yet luminous, yet brilliant world does Ferrante's voice evoke! I urge you to get your hands on this magnificent saga.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,653 followers
December 2, 2015
This novel broke my heart. It broke my heart so badly that I had to stop reading it for a few days to recover.

This is the second book of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan series, and it follows Elena and Lila from their teenage years and into their early 20s. Their neighborhood in Naples is still rough and violent in the 1960s, but Lila's marriage to the wealthy grocer Stefano allows her to climb out of the poverty. The two friends were often competitive, especially about school, but in book two, they are also competitive about men.

Which brings me to why this novel broke my heart. It's hard to talk about this book without spoilers, so I shall hide it for those who don't want to know yet.

While it took me a while to get into the first book in this series, My Brilliant Friend, I was instantly drawn up into the story in this second book. (There are still a lot of families and confusing nicknames to remember, but there is an Index of Characters at the beginning that is a helpful reference.) Early in the story, Elena admits she has read Lila's diary, which Lila gave to Elena to prevent Stefano from finding it. Having Lila's perspective on the events was a clever way to add depth to the narrative. At several times, Elena is so upset with Lila that she deliberately loses contact with her, and later she's able to fill in the gaps of what happened to her by reading the diary.

While I have high praise for this novel, I also have a warning for those who don't like violence — this novel has innumerable incidents of domestic abuse and rape, and some of the scenes are deeply disturbing. Ferrante wrote stark descriptions of what happens when it becomes acceptable in a culture for men to beat women. For example, early in the novel, Stefano rapes Lila (also called Lina) on her wedding night:

He leaned over to kiss her on the mouth, but she avoided him, turning her face forcefully to right and left, struggling, twisting, as she repeated, "Leave me alone, I don't want you, I don't want you, I don't want you."

At that point, almost against his will, the tone of Stefano's voice rose: "Now you're really pissing me off, Lina."

He repeated that remark two or three times, each time louder, as if to assimilate fully an order that was coming to him from very far away, perhaps even from before he was born. The order was, be a man, Ste': either you subdue her now or you'll never subdue her; your wife has to learn right away that she is the female and you're the male and therefore she has to obey. (emphasis mine)

My point is that even though this is the story of two female friends, I have found these novels to be very thoughtful in their social commentary, especially with the different paths that Elena and Lila took. Elena stayed in school and wanted to find a career that would allow her to move away, but Lila chose to marry a successful businessman and stay in the neighborhood. However, each woman still deals with rape and the threat of violence, they still push and struggle to change their roles as girlfriends and wives, and they have to handle criticism and judgment when they try to better themselves through reading and education. Basically it's damned if you do, damned if you don't.

The drama of the two women was so real and well-written that I feel as if know them. I did like the first book, but I thought this second book was a much stronger story. And now I am so engrossed in their lives that I instantly started reading book three after finishing book two. Highly recommended.

Favorite Quotes
"If nothing could save us, not money, not a male body, and not even studying, we might as well destroy everything immediately."

"Of course, the explanation was simple: we had seen our fathers beat our mothers from childhood. We had grown up thinking that a stranger must not even touch us, but that our father, our boyfriend, and our husband could hit us when they liked, out of love, to educate us, to reeducate us."

"But one afternoon Lila said softly that there was nothing that could eliminate the conflict between the rich and the poor ... Those who are on the bottom always want to be on top, those who are on top want to stay on top, and one way or another they always reach the point where they're kicking and spitting at each other."

"She chose a different path and one can't go back, life takes us where it wants."

"I said to myself every day: I am what I am and I have to accept myself; I was born like this, in this city, with this dialect, without money; I will give what I can give, I will take what I can take, I will endure what has to be endured."

"Don't read books that you can't understand, it's bad for you."

"My parents, my siblings were very proud of me, but, I realized, they didn't know why: what use was I, why had I returned, how could they demonstrate to the neighbors that I was the pride of the family? If you thought about it I only complicated their life, further crowding the small apartment, making more arduous the arrangement of beds at night, getting in the way of a daily routine that by now didn't allow for me. Besides, I always had my nose in a book, standing up, sitting in one corner or another, a useless monument to study, a self-important, serious person whom they all made it their duty not to disturb, but about whom they also wondered: What are her intentions?"
Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,046 followers
September 11, 2016
Elena Ferrante is an absolute marvel. This was utterly ravishing. How does she do it? Structurally her novels could hardly be more conservative, her subject matter – the fraught friendship of two women – has been done to death. And yet you’re constantly left with the feeling that no one has ever done what she does before. Or at least no one has done it with such searing insight and freshness.

Only a handful of writers can undress and get to the heart of women as lucidly and thrillingly as Ferrante. The first hundred pages especially were quite simply a dazzling display of a writer removing all the paint and powder from a woman's face mask and showing us the naked truths beneath. Ferrante is like a kind of dream psychoanalysis. She dispels all the fog, unravels all the knots of a woman’s deepest feeling and elucidates in simple language the fount, the hidden motive. She always knows the secret as to why her women are doing what they do. She once said in an interview that her ambition was to make the facts of ordinary life gripping. She achieves this by elucidating the emotional/motivational source of many of these facts.

She also has this extraordinary talent for easing into her narrative and explaining difficult subjects without sacrificing a single beat of the fabulous driving momentum of her story. There are no divergences in this novel; every line is intrinsic to understanding Elena and Lila’s struggles to achieve identity and autonomy. For example, the domestic violence in this novel is all the more powerfully disturbing for the lack of emphasis she gives it, as if it’s no more extraordinary than a trip to the shops. It makes the domestic violence in, for example, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing seem written up and theatrical. In fact the ease with which she feeds hugely complex and pivotal experience into her narrative makes most other contemporary novelists seem a bit written up and theatrical. There’s a fleet-footed breeziness to Ferrante’s storytelling which is quite simply bewitching in its ease of assurance.

I put off reading this for ages because for some reason I thought it might be a disappointment after My Brilliant Friend. On the contrary it’s even better.
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,260 reviews5,356 followers
December 27, 2022
دنيانا ستظل دوما هكذا فيها من كل حاجة اتنين
ابرياء و مذنبين..جبناء و جسورين..مشترين و بائعين
و عندما يتم بيعك ليلة انتصارك
و تكتشفى انك لا تساوين اكتر من حذاء يدوى قديم
اذن لقد تم ذبحك و لتحدثينا بعدها
عن اسطورة الانقاذ
عن اكذوبة الجمال
عن خديعة الاستمرار
عن اتقاء الحقائق بتصنع الاكاذيب

انها المراهقة اذن بقدرتها الفائقة على تدمير مستقبلك لعقود
انها الأنوثة الملعونة و ما يصاحبها من طامعين
*ما تراه مهما الان لن تلتفت اليه ابدا بعد حين*

نتابع العلاقة الصاخبة بين النابوليتين ليلا و لينا التي قررت ان تصبح صدى/رد فعل لصديقتها ..ليلا باسمها الجديد كزوجة اللحام ستيفانو كاراتشي و الينا كطالبة ثانوى ترتقي بالعلم..و لأنه تم ذبح ليلا؛ فتصرفاتها لم تتعدى فرفرة المذبوحين؛ و هكذا تخبطت صديقتها ايضا و صار بينهم علاقة طردية غريبة
عندما تتأنق لينا تتسخ ليلا
عندما تسعد ليلا تحزن لينا
عندما تصعد لينا تهبط ليلا
عندما تحب ليلا تكره لينا
ليلا اعصارا مدويا و لينا جدولا منسابا
ليلا لا يهمها الاقاويل ..و الينا قد تقتلها الكلمة
الخوف مفتاح الينا.. و التأرجح على حبل الخطر مفتاح ليلا
هل هي صدفة ان الفرق بين الاسمين مجرد حرف واحد؟؟

عن الخزى.. تحكى لنا فيرانتي كما لم تفعل كاتبة من قبل الخزى من اكتشافك المبكر للجوهر الدنيء "لرجال اسرتك"؟
الخزى من استسلامك لرغبات بهيمية/ شهوات طائشة
الخزي من زيف لا يدركه سواك
الخزى من فقر مدقع و منبت متواضع تبدو اثاره دوما
الخزى الذي كان يجب ان يشعر به"اغنياء" يحافظون على ثراءهم بالدياثة /مثقفين يحافظون على رونقهم بالهروب المتعالي
عن الدونية..التي يورثها الفقر مهما اغتنيت
التي تؤكدها قناعات الطفولة مهما ارتقيت
و لن تمحوها انجازاتك ..مهما تفوقت
عن نظرتك ��نفسك و نظرة رفيق روحك لك
عن السفر الذي تكتشف فيه حقا نفوس من عاشرتهم لسنين
عن مكاسبك و خسائره في ثماني سنوات هم الاهم في حياة كل انسان

الناس يستغرقون وقتا طويلا للتمييز بين الخير و الشر*
*و لكي تساعدهم يجب اختيار اللحظة المناسبة لفتح اعينهم
و في ظل سرد منساب ببساطة تذهلك و يمسك بتلابيبك بعنف و ايضا بناء روائي عبقرى مليء بالفلاش باك الذي يذكرك بتلك الدمي الروسية المتداخلة و لكن بدون فذلكة او غموض و يتجلى في نهايته وجه الدنيا الخفي/ القذر في اختيار موقع المشهدين الاخيرين للرواية
فقد ظلت اللحوم المصنعة و المقددة رمز/مصدر الثراء عبر الأحداث. .و نفاجأ بالكواليس المقززة/ القذرة لصناعتها في مصنع بعيد حقير لكن شهير

و في نقلة خبيثة ننتقل لندوة ثقافية لمناقشة/نقد رواية بكل ما نعرفه من كواليس المثقفين البائسة

*قراءة مشتركة سعدت بها مع رحمة و اسراء و رفيق الجزء الاول كمال
هذه لينكات لريفيوهات اجزاء الثلاثة الاخرى ن رباعية نابولي

... صديقتي المذهلة

... الهاربون و الباقون

الطفلة الضائعة

واخيرا تؤكد فيرانتي للنساء بقسوة ..انه لا شيء قابلا للربح في هذه الحياة

Profile Image for Kelly.
878 reviews4,018 followers
February 9, 2017
What's your ugly place?

We all have one. We all have a place we quite deliberately do not go to. That we are aware is there, but have developed systems and defensive walls and jokes and denials in order to keep it out of the light of day. It's the place you can't help but end up sometimes when something particularly embarrassing happens to you, something tragic, an epiphany about yourself that you didn't particularly want occurs to you. It's the place where you were the person you never, ever wanted to be lives, and the memories of when that person came out that one time that you never want to think about again.

That deep down dark pit of your stomach feeling that’s welling up and over as that image comes to your brain? That’s it. That’s the visceral level of vulnerability, insecurity, ugliness and pain that I saw there. And there is where you need to be to understand everything I'm about to tell you.

Because that place is where this novel goes. This thing hit me where I live.

Which means, as you can probably tell already, that reading Story of a New Name is not something I would recommend for anyone in a fragile emotional state. It isn’t for anyone who is still too close to being an insecure, bookish not-quite-teenager anymore with major self esteem issues. Even a few years ago, I think reading this might have sent me into a depressive, melodramatic spiral like when I saw Melancholia, which had to have been the literal worst thing I could have chosen to see while writing my thesis in a foreign country at a school full of people smarter than me. I saw it three times and lost a weekend before I could see straight again.

Which is what may happen with Elena Ferrante. Which is totally insane, when you read these books objectively. Or at least, I think it would be, I have no way of really telling right now. Her style is, for the most part, this totally bare, bald-faced thing that just tells you exactly what is happening to her characters in their mundane, perfectly ordinary 1960s poor Italian lives. The engine driving the drama that the things that keep happening keep right on damn happening to them and the second volume is no better. Ferrante is as merciless as time, marching on without a thought for her characters and their development, who really could use some more time in this stage of their personal development or other. Ferrante, like the harsh Naples neighborhood she raises her characters in, doesn’t allow herself to give a damn. I can absolutely guarantee you, whatever you sign up for, you should sign up for some “shit happens” and very little mercy granted, because that’s how it goes with Ferrante. (Sometimes I think that the main narrator’s school and career arc is the mercy bone she threw us just to keep us from looking away.)

The second volume of this series focuses on the girls’ late adolescence and post-adolescence, the years that for most of us would be covered by late high school, college and your first post-college job. As with the first novel, the pages of the novel are covered over with a powerful atmosphere that burns right through the pages until you’re sitting right with Lila and Elena with sand in your outdated bathing suit on the beach at Ischia, standing on a street corner watching a too-flashy sports car go by, catching a glimpse of a movie star that looks like your friend, with Elena in a cramped corner of a bedroom like a modern Italian Fanny Price, angrily swatting at mosquitoes and trying to keep still in the suffocating heat. The courtyards of broken glass, wailing from the windows, and women, uncommented upon, wearing bruises to work the next day is as sickeningly evoked as ever.

One of the more fascinating atmospheric elements that Ferrante added demonstrated the stage of development where you become aware that you are not the center of the universe in a variety of ways- in this case for characters living in poverty and powerlessness, most of them borne in forcibly upon you whether you like it or not. Ferrante starts to introduce the gradual intrusion of politics and political identity- tellingly, it mostly shows in one more tribal identity, one more way for the kids to divide themselves- mostly in increased accusations of “Fascist pig!” and “Red communist!” thrown around in place of remarks on one’s face and person, and one kid going to one meeting and one going to another. Elena also encounters this world, but again, not in itself, but as a piece of currency in the game of the class system, another piece of another kind of tribal mask that she’s trying hard to don:

”Professor Airota and his daughter, had, for example, affectionate skirmishes on political subjects that I had heard about from Pasquale, from Nino, but whose substance I knew almost nothing about. Arguments like: you’ve been trapped by inter-class collaboration, you call it a trap, I call it mediation; mediation in which the Christian Democrats always and only win; you’re not reforming a thing; in our place what would you do; revolution, revolution and revolution; revolution is taking Italy out of the middle ages….

Like that, a swift back and forth: a polemical exercise that they both obviously enjoyed…. What I had never had and, I now knew, would always lack. What was it? I wasn’t able to say precisely: the training, perhaps, to feel that the questions of the world were deeply connected to me; the capacity to feel them as crucial and not purely as information to display at an exam, in view of a good grade; a mental conformation that didn’t reduce everything to my own individual battle, to the effort to be successful.”

That one hit me hard. This is is a really tough book on the class system and the unseen, building damage that it does to the psyche. The sort of psychology on display here is the sort of thing I learned in my urban teacher training program, or learned first hand when faced with some of my students. Elena spends a great deal of the back half of this book anxiously trying to decode and adopt the unwritten rules of being middle class- the words, the clothes, what I was trained to call the “cultural knapsack” that middle class kids often get seemingly by osmosis. Ferrante shows the utter human waste that happens as a result- invisible waste, as far as we’re concerned- the brilliant minds that never get a chance to take over the world, the fruit seller who is unexpectedly good at math, the entrepreneurial ideas crushed by self-confidence issues and family squabbles. It’s much harder to look at than any of the wasted landscapes or shabby apartments that she describes.

And watching Elena sew her middle class mask onto her face tighter and tighter, laboring at it for years, and watching the ugly ugly road that it takes to get there (of which Ferrante only tells you the barest part, but it isn’t hard to guess) it… well… did anyone else watch Battlestar Galatica? Do you remember that time that Baltar was in jail after fucking up yet again, and he talks to… Lee, I think, finally opening up to him a little bit about where he’s from? Fuck, I wish I could find it. But while he’s talking to him, hanging his head in the darkness with his hair covering his face, he slowly lets his cultured British accent morph into a thick, gravelly, hick voice that is clearly his natural tone. He makes it as scary as possible, throwing it at aristocratic Lee like a weapon, moving to the bars with red eyes, like he’s morphing himself into the monster he believes himself to be.

It’s like that, but mannered, expressed in ladylike, spare lines like this:

”…. I was so glad that no one in that nice little family had asked me, as happened frequently, where I came from, what my father did and my mother, I was I, I, I.”

It makes sense why, later in the novel, there’s a passage about how so many characters are confused when Lila wants to go take a job in the center of the city. She’s a veritable queen in the old neighborhood, and can lord it over anyone there, lend them money, show them up in clothes, people are now afraid to cross her…. Why would she want to go to the nicer part of town, where her illusions will be shattered? Why would she want to take that away that illusion from herself?

This class angle had a lot to do with the ugly place I was telling you about before, which is the deep-seeded insecurity that runs throughout this entire book. But while class and place and atmosphere are the bedrock reasons, the insecurity I’m talking about here has to do with friendship. This series is, after all, about a friendship. No matter what other powerful stuff buttresses it under the surface, that provided it with its foundation, we’re far enough along into the lives of these girls that the friendship has now taken on a life of its own.

We’ve reached the point, as happens in a lot of long-running friendships, where the thing has become overripe- it’s become something rotten and possibly poisonous, something that probably should have been dumped overboard a long time ago. But you’re still at the place where you can’t quite let it go.

Especially when it’s a powerful relationship with someone as charismatic as Lila- someone you looked up to, someone you put on a pedestal and set up as a sort of personal muse/deity/devil. It’s a fascinating, minute examination of a part of the consequences of an expanding consciousness of the world- namely that you realize that you, your friend, and your courtyard are no longer the center of the universe. Elena is starting to become aware, in fits and starts, of the fact that Lila has a personality and limits, just like she does. She starts to say things like “this is what she does.” She starts to express annoyance, and there’s even a few times, where she pathetically tries to keep Lila out:

“In the past there had been Lila, a continuous happy detour into surprising lands. Now everything I was I wanted to get from myself. I was almost nineteen, I would never again depend on someone, and I would never again miss someone.”

And even a whole chapter where she experiments writing about her own life without referencing Lila at all, something neat, clean, undisturbed…. And something that lasts two pages before Lila returns:

“How easy it is to tell the story of myself without Lila: time quiets down and the important facts slide along the thread of the years like suitcases on a conveyor belt at an airport; you pick them up and put them on a page and it’s done.

It’s more complicated to recount what happened to her in those years. The belt slows down, accelerates, swerves abruptly, goes off the tracks. The suitcases fall off, fly open, her things end up among mine: to accommodate them, I am compelled to return to the narrative concerning me (and that had come to be unobstructed) and expand phrases that now sound too concise…. My life forces me to imagine what hers would have been if what happened to me had happened to her, what use she would have made of my luck. And her life continuously appears in mine, in the words that I’ve uttered, in which there’s often an echo of hers, in a particular gesture that is an adaptation of a gesture of hers, in may less which is such because of her more, in my more which is yielding to the force of her less.”

She can’t leave her behind. There’s a lot of reasons why, but at the heart of it is another class battle of sorts to do with Elena’s identification as an intellectual, and a discussion of different kinds of intelligence and which one is “better”. Lila’s is the kind that poets romanticize, people are magnetically drawn to, that succeeds when it shouldn’t, but also continues to push and push until it inevitably breaks something. ( “Is it possible that you must always do harm, Lila? When will you stop? When will your energy diminish, will you be distracted, when will you finally collapse like a sleepy sentinel? When will you grow wide and sit at the cash register in the new neighborhood, with your stomach swelling and make Pinuccia and aunt, and me, me, me, leave to go my own way?”- runs the imagined inner monologue of one of the characters) While Elena’s… well, Elena’s is kind that gets you through high school and college and into a steady job and the plaudits of those around you.

It’s the sort of self-punishing struggle that most intellectuals put themselves through at some point, and probably most of their lives, if they identify as or are put into the role of a “smart kid” early enough. You were that kid, right? A lot of us were. But then you met that other kid, right? The one who was smarter than you. If you’re me, you met a whole group of them in which you were the least intelligent person. If you’re lucky, you felt challenged, you felt yourself blossom. If you weren’t, you felt inadequate, like your identity had melted away and you never quite recovered. If you’re super unlucky, like Elena, you get the triple double horrible punch of feeling elated/exhilarated/proud/betrayed/insecure/unhappy/angry/sad every time you see this person wasting themselves away. If you’ve never had that sort of deep friendship, the kind that’s gone wrong and back around the corner again (or even if it never quite come back again), the sort that’s steered your life, I don’t know how to explain it to you.

The closest I can come is that Cathy Heathcliff thing, it’s that thing where Cathy tells people that Heathcliff is a part of her, and that really sucks and it’s no pleasure to her most of the time, but there he is and there’s really no way to tear him out again and you’re going to have to live with the goddamn thing because if you don't, you'll pull out such a big piece of you that what you consider your Self will effectively die.

She burns it up again at the end though, even after everything we see them go through. That end, man. I can’t leave without talking about it. Elena goes to see Lila, to share some important, happy news with her, news that she is convinced will change things, will ignite something good in her again. And she does, but then Lila’s reaction, what she sees her do in response. And what happens to her- what she thinks she realizes- It was a gut punch that I can only describe by going back to Baltar again. Remember in the last episoe- he’s with Six and they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to get by on the new planet and he says, in the most broken little voice you’ve ever heard, like he absolutely can’t believe he’s bringing it up: “You know, I know about farming?”

If you were the person who, like me, was utterly destroyed by that moment, then you need to read this book. If you were any of the people described above, or if you have that ugly place, you need to read this book. If you’re looking to be transported, if you’re looking for something that can consume you for days, you need to read this book.

So I guess, really, I would say that if you’re alive in any way, I’m sure that there’s a reason that you should probably read this book.

Instant personal classic, instant all-time favorites list, will be re-reading this once a decade for the rest of my life. Why?

“…She was explaining to me that I had won nothing, that in the world there is nothing to win, that her life was full of varied and foolish adventures as much as mine, and that time simply slipped away without any meaning, and it was good just to see each other every so often to hear the mad sound of one brain echo in the mad sound of the brain of the other.”

That’s why.

(This review originally appeared on my blog at: http://shouldacouldawouldabooks.com/2...)
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,150 reviews1,686 followers
December 26, 2022

Herbert List

La lingua napoletana, che con generosità, a volte invadenza, ci viene offerta, o imposta, dagli scrittori e dagli abitanti di quella splendida città, qui manca del tutto.
Ho l'impressione che manchi perfino più che nel primo episodio di questa saga, e quasi se ne sente la mancanza: forse perché a volte Ferrante si prodiga a spiegarci il tipo di dialetto che sta usando un suo personaggio invece di farcelo leggere, invece di farcelo sentire.

Elena e Lila da bambine e da adolescenti protagoniste della serie TV.

Credo sia il suo bisogno di comunicare a tutti indistintamente, di essere capita e non rischiare di essere fraintesa: in queste pagine c’è un’urgenza di racconto che sembra ansia.
Eppure, la lingua è sempre controllata, la comprensione sempre agevolata, il pensiero e il sentimento di Ferrante passano a me lettore senza filtri e senza intralci.
Magia del talento, della grande letteratura.

Il rione

Man mano, questo libro è diventato una droga in senso letterale: non ne potevo fare a meno, non potevo lasciarlo – ho perfino messo da parte il Dampyr del mese, che di solito brucia nelle mani finché non lo leggo, e invece questa volta è passato in secondo ordine.
Perché Lenuccia e Lila m’interessavano di più, mi assorbivano del tutto.


Non che Ferrante racconti eventi, o misteri, o fatti speciali: si legge di amori, matrimoni, fidanzamenti, rotture, tradimenti, concepimenti, serate in pizzeria, chiacchiere tra amiche, negozi che aprono, gente che fa affari, altra che fallisce, vacanze a Ischia, appuntamenti d’amore, studi e scuola….
In pratica, l’universo intero: niente di speciale, nessun evento, nessun mistero...

Cos’è che di quest'opera prende in modo così irresistibile?
Il ritmo del racconto?
La fluidità della scrittura?
La trama alla quale è facile ‘partecipare’?
La qualità delle protagoniste?
O il coro dei comprimari sempre presente?


Ma, c’è qualcosa che allontana questa saga da altre più o meno simili: la ‘cattiveria’ di Lila, che è forza di carattere determinazione e coraggio di una giovane (giovanissima) che all’inizio degli anni Sessanta, in un ‘rione’ di Napoli capitale del Meridione d’Italia, entra nel matrimonio, diventa sposa e moglie, e non vuole mollare, non vuole trasformarsi (“smarginarsi” *) e soccombere come ha visto succedere a sua madre e a tante altre donne, non vuole essere annullata in una condizione femminile che respinge e non riconosce come sua (si potrebbe darle torto? Si può in tutta sincerità dire che è storia vecchia, conclusa e superata?) – vuole “amare” invece di “volere bene”, amare come succede solo nei libri e al cinema, nel rione non lo dice e non lo pensa nessuno.


Ma anche la sua amica io narrante, anche Elena/Lenù, che vede i suoi presunti limiti serrarla, che si giudica fragile e perdente in partenza, anche lei ha la stessa forza di carattere determinazione e coraggio, che la spingono a completare la scuola nonostante povertà e opposizione familiare, nonostante intorno a lei la scuola sia dai più considerata inutile e destinata a pochi privilegiati.
Lenuccia trova proprio nello studio, nel superamento del dialetto, nell’appropriarsi della lingua italiana, nell’agognata laurea, trova riscatto e riconoscimento. (Se ti insegnano le cose fin da piccola, da grande si fa meno fatica in tutto, diventi una che sembra nata imparata.)
Si esce dalla miseria, quella dei soldi e quella dello spirito, dalle periferie e dalla marginalità, conquistando il sapere, la lingua, il rispetto umano, la dignità della persona.
Così poco attuale il “messaggio” di questa Ferrante, così fuori dal mondo e da come vanno davvero le cose, così rinfrescante…

Il documentario ”Ferrante Fever” con le animazioni di Mara Cerri e Magda Guidi.

Lila ed Elena crescono, maturano, cambiano, evitano la smarginatura: e intorno a loro l’orizzonte si allarga, dal rione, da Napoli, passiamo al resto d’Italia, il Centro e anche il Nord, Pisa, Milano…
Il paese si trasforma, e a me lettore non resta che attendere il prossimo capitolo del ciclo: per sapere cose che già conosco, ma che nessuno mi ha mai raccontato così.

Mauro Santini: Flòr da Baixa.

*La smarginatura
Che le persone ancor più delle cose, perdessero i loro margini e dilagassero senza forma è ciò che ha spaventato di più Lila nel corso della sua vita. L’aveva atterrita lo smarginarsi del fratello, che amava più di ogni altro suo familiare, e l’aveva terrorizzata il disfarsi di Stefano nel passaggio da fidanzato a marito. Ho saputo solo dai suoi quaderni quanto l’avesse segnata la sua prima notte di nozze e come temesse il possibile stravolgersi del corpo del marito, il suo deformarsi per le spinte interne delle voglie e delle rabbie o, al contrario, dei disegni subdoli, della viltà. Specialmente di notte temeva di svegliarsi e di trovarlo sformato nel letto, ridotto a escrescenze che scoppiavano per troppo umore, la carne che colava disciolta, e con essa ogni cosa intorno, i mobili, l’intero appartamento e lei stessa, sua moglie, spaccata, risucchiata in quel flusso sporco di materia viva.

”Via Curiel” di Mara Cerri e Magda Guidi.

”Via Curiel” di Mara Cerri e Magda Guidi.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,535 followers
November 20, 2019
This is a marvelous novel with heart and soul, Neapolitan heart and soul that is. The second installment in the famous Elena Ferrante tetralogy, for me anyway, exceeded the first book in originality and plot line. I found it moving and a very quick read despite its nearly 500 page length.

For this review, I wanted to focus on the title and the importance of names in Ferrante's work. First off, there is, it seems to me, a Proustian reference here to "Le nom du pays - Le nom" which is the somewhat ambiguous subtitle of one of the early sections of La Recherche du Temps Perdu. There are some similarities between Proust's style of describing Marcel's youth to how Ms. Ferrante describes Elena's youth. There is also a second subtle Proustian technique: we learn in this book that the narrator writes her first book and publishes it under her name "Elena" and we know the author's name is given as Elena, so as the same ambiguity exists between Marcel and Elena the narrators, Marcel and Elena the characters, and Marcel and Elena the authors of the book. Underneath this, in the narrative itself, names play a huge role in the story. The, and I apologize for the overwrought term "ambiguity" once again, ambiguous frontier between Elena/Lina/Lenucchia and Lila/Lenù is apparent in their names and their nicknames. [As an aside, is it me or does the Italian language have an incredible plethora of nicknames?] Elena's search for identity is complex and goes through ups and downs, a reason for this is precisely how hard it is for her to distinguish herself from Lila in her own head - complex because their trajectories, their looks, their families are both so incredibly different and yet Elena has this magnetic, inevitable attraction to her friend and this impedes her search for self.

We pick up the lives of Lila and Elena in the 60s after Lila's mariage to Stefano and during Elena's studies in high school and at university in Pisa. The themes that were present in My Brilliant Friend resonate here once again, especially those of the subjugation of women and the problems of class. Elena's sexual initiation and the battering of Lila by Stefano serve as examples of the former whereas both characters struggles to escape the Neopolitan slums permeate both of their stories. What fascinates me as a reader is the raw, realistic descriptions of Elena's success in gaining some recognition in "good society" and her complex feelings of shame and pride that envelope her. As for Lila, her attempts to escape her disastrous mariage lead her to mistreat Elena time and time again, and despite her heart-stopping beauty and sensuality, she seems inescapably tied to the neighborhood - the Camorra as represented by the Solari brothers and her dialect which binds her to her fate as well.

What also strikes me is the lucid interpretation of the characters' actions. When Nino kisses Elena on the cheek, and then, fatefully, Lila, "[I]n his view it meant: Let's get rid of all the filters that prevent us from fully savoring our being here and now, real" (p. 223). This is actually another theme of the book, how do we live authentically despite the constraints of our culture and our upbringing. The dialogs are rapid-fire and full of irony and meaning. I regret that I cannot read in Italian because I imagine that the passages between Italian and dialect and the intertextual inferences must be even better in the original. The perception of our own self-deception on a daily basis also pervades the text: "There are moments when we resort to senseless formulations and advance absurd claims to hide straightforward feelings" (p. 271) is a lucid truth that is observed by the narrator again and again. Time and time again, Elena is led down corridors of moral ambivalence, "I was there on the island, the air stirred by the cab's movement assailed me with the intense odors of the vegetation from which the night was evaporating. But it was a mortified presence, submissive to the demands of others" (p. 284). In this way, both Naples and Ischia are also characters in the story in how they form the personality of the protagonists. The real problem for Elena is her own lack of self-identity, self-love: "Their passion invaded me, disturbed me. I loved them both and so I couldn't love myself, feel myself, affirm myself with a need for life of my own, one that had the same blind, mute force as theirs, So it seemed to me." (p. 284) There is a gorgeous passage on page 289 of soul-searching on the beach where we feel her pain, her alienation from herself that was literally painful to read: "Lila is right, the beauty of things is a trick, the sky is the throne of fear." Powerful words. Water and the sea are a consistent metaphor for the narrator's self-loathing: "And if on the surface my condition might seem more solid, more compact, here instead, beside Lila, I felt sodden, earth too soaked with water." (p. 294) Yet, it is at this point, after the fateful night away from Nunzio that Elena starts to change once again and find herself. This passage was brilliant: "And her life continuously appears in mine, in the words that I've uttered, in which there's often an echo of hers, in a particular gesture that is an adaptation of a gesture of hers, in my less which is such because of her more, in my more which is the yielding to the force of her less. Not to mention what she never said but let me guess, what I didn't know and read later in her notebooks. Thus the story of the facts has to reckon with filters, deferments, partial truths, half lies: from it comes an arduous measurement of time passed that is based completely on the unreliable measuring device of words." (p. 337). And yet those words are where Elena will find vindication and meaning as she is finally able to put them on paper and write her first book. This comes, of course, after more tribulation in Pisa where Elena feels the social distance between her and the academic society: "Gone was the pleasure of re-educating my voice, my gestures, my way of dressing and walking, as if I were competing for the prize of the best disguise, the mask worn so well that is was almost a face." (p. 400) This passage reminded me a lot of the Bal des Masques in Le Temps Retrouvé. And it is precisely at this moment of reflection that she writes her book.

I can't wait to read the third volume of this series and can't emphasize enough how engaging a read these books are. I hope my review will incite you to read or reread this magnificent book. C'mon library, hurry up! :)
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,285 reviews2,205 followers
February 14, 2022

The hearts, minds and souls of two young women seep from the pages as in the first book of the series My Brilliant Friend where they were little girls, best friends growing up in a rough neighborhood in Naples. In this second book, Ferrante brings her readers back fully into the lives of Lila and Elena, not gently, but with full force. I was fully immersed into their harsh realities that were painfully raw and graphic at times, into the messiness of relationships of a cast of characters, especially the complex friendship between Elena and Lila . I was gutted at times and stunned, but I couldn’t put it down.

I read the first book six years ago and I wish I hadn’t waited so long to continue with their story. I was drawn back to them because I was taken in by the HBO adaptation of the books . I watched two seasons, the second of which was based on this book. I came away amazed at how closely the series followed the books in scenes and tone, dialog and characterization. Season 3 based on the third book begins on February 28th. I plan to read the third book before then, but I’ll wait a few days to absorb the intensity of this one. I will, of course, be reading the forth and last book as well, but I have a feeling it will be hard to say goodbye.

Profile Image for William2.
745 reviews2,961 followers
December 29, 2018
"For your whole life you love people and you never really know who they are." (Nunzia to Lenù, p.215)

This one's a heartbreaker. So exquisitely rendered that you'll recognize your own hideous pain rising up to assail you again, dear Reader; your losses, your miseries in the cause of love. Ferrante makes universal the disparate pain all loving creatures suffer. Toward the end, when reality becomes too much for some of the characters, they descend into scarily dissociative states that surprise and rattle.

The novel's narrative pleasure is dizzying. Every action naturally folds into the next; the continuity is superb. The clarity is extraordinary, it never relents. I found myself slowing down to take in the richness as I would when reading a poem. That's the paradox Ferrante incites in readers: between wanting to gallop through the stunning tale, to just gobble it up like cake, and slowing down to take in the beauty of its structure and language.

It's the early 1960s in Naples and Lina Carracci (née Cerullo) is newly and miserably married and living in virtual purdah with her husband, Stefano, whom she has quickly learned to hate because he is a tool of the Solaras, who are Cammora. Mr. and Mrs. Carracci live quite well in a new apartment with modern decor and lots of money because of their connection to these local criminals.

Lina, we will recall from volume one, My Brilliant Friend, was unable to go on with her education at age ten or so and was made to work in her father's shoe shop. Her chance of a higher education gone—even though she was the smartest girl in the school—she then had to resort to other means of self advancement, namely marriage. In the early going here it's not going so well. She feels, not without justification, that Stefano tricked her into marriage. So she refuses him the great gift and he beats her to a pulp regularly, in effect raping his wife.

In her friend Lenù, our narrator, Lina sees her own lost dream of education still alive. Yet Lenù's having her man problems too. Her lover, Antonio, a car mechanic, suspects her of interest in another fellow, Nino, who is intellectually Lenù's match in a way Antonio can never be. Lenù stays with the blue collar Antonio, though, because she doesn't feel worthy of Nino, having come from a background much like Antonio's. Lenù disparages her intellect and achievements, lusting over the distant Nino. She is trying to make that leap but can't see how she might do it.

This is all a little silly when you consider that Nino is actually from her own neighborhood. She's known him since she was a child. But his father moved out of the neighborhood many years ago and became a college professor. And now Lenù feels Nino's somehow out of her league.
There was no escape. No, neither Lina nor I would ever become like the [sophisticated] girl who had waited for Nino after school. We both lacked something intangible but fundamental, which was obvious in her even if you simply saw her from a distance, and which one possessed or did not, because to have that thing it was not enough to learn Latin or Greek or philosophy, nor was the money from groceries or shoes of any use. (p. 84)

Suffice it to say, Nino is more available then Lenù suspects. That's the problem. I say no more. Read.

The long interlude on the beach at Ischia reminds me very much of Cesare Pavese's novellas, particularly "The Beach," as found in The Selected Works. One of Nino's sisters is even named Clelia. Another work, which harrowingly evokes the terrors of youthful sexual awakening, is brought to mind by The Story Of A New Name, and that's Knut Hamsun's Pan: From Lieutenant Thomas Glahn's Papers. See my reviews of both books.

On to Volume 3....
Profile Image for Candi.
614 reviews4,631 followers
March 31, 2017
4.5 stars

"Yes, it’s Lila who makes writing difficult. My life forced me to imagine what hers would have been if what happened to me had happened to her, what use she would have made of my luck. And her life continuously appears in mine, in the words that I’ve uttered, in which there’s often an echo of hers, in my less which is such because of her more, in my more which is the yielding to the force of her less."

This second book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series continues the story of two childhood friends, now young adults, Lila and Elena. Just as riveting as My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name captured my attention from page one. It’s quite dramatic really, and I found that at times my head was spinning from the depth of the penetrating look at the lives, behaviors, motivations and innermost thoughts of this pair. Now, a book that sets my head spinning can be a good thing – and it was here. An accomplished writer like Ferrante can draw you in like you are watching the drama play out right in front of you. It did require, however, a step back from time to time to relax and catch my breath. A bit of re-energizing is necessary to take it all in! Imagine yourself a teenager still, with all the complexities of emotions, the uncertainties, the jealousies, and the sometimes rash behaviors attributed to you and your friends and acquaintances. But now add in a degree of poverty that most of us are fortunately not accustomed to, violence that I pray most are not subjected to, and the expectations and obstacles faced by women in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This is precisely what Lila and Elena deal with and what we as readers are privy to through the lens provided to us.

Now, if you haven’t read the first book in the series, you may want to stop reading this review at this point. I’m not revealing any spoilers, but I personally didn’t want any details before reading and you may feel the same. I just want to talk about Lila and Elena a little bit more. Throughout the novel, I found myself reflecting on the two and who was better off, who the stronger of the two characters, etc. I think the opening quote to my review really sums up the relationship between the two and I came to my own conclusion, whether right or wrong, that each completes the other. Elena may have had more educational opportunities, but without the encouragement of Lila as well as a sense of competition, she may not have had the drive to take advantage of those opportunities. Lila finds herself in a marriage that does not suit her from the beginning, but she will fight for something more. She has more material possessions, and after all, wasn’t that the dream these two had as little girls? Wasn’t that the goal of going to school and receiving an education? They wanted to become rich! But happiness is elusive. Perhaps riches are not enough. Is it too late to re-make oneself and achieve something more? I think Lila can sustain herself knowing that Elena has been successful with her studies. Maybe there are more ways to rise above the poverty and the violence of the neighborhood other than money. The narrative is written from Elena’s point of view, but we also get occasional glimpses from Lila’s point of view through a series of notebooks she entrusted to Elena. Notebooks that Elena was not given permission to read, but that is neither here nor there! If your best friend gave you her diary for safekeeping, what would you do?! Maybe your friend gave you the diary because she couldn’t express the deepest feelings in her heart, and she knew that you would not be able to resist? In this way, you can share your thoughts in a less confrontational manner perhaps. I don’t really know, but it was certainly a clever means for us to glean more than just Elena’s point of view here.

I don’t know that I can say much more about this book or this series – it’s one that I could contemplate for an indefinite amount of time! So much happens in these pages, but none of it is confusing. There are a lot of names and variations of names for the same person. A guide at the front of the book helps with this. Otherwise, it flows seamlessly and is written skillfully. There is drama, but I don’t mean to say it’s melodramatic. Not in the least. I will admit that it is addicting! Oh, and that ending! I will read the next in the series, albeit with a bit of a break in between.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,134 reviews8,140 followers
November 13, 2018
Loved it just as much the 2nd time reading it. I adore these characters and would read 100 books about them.
4.5 stars Update: Bumping this one up to a 5 stars because after a few months of thinking about it, it's definitely my favorite in the series. I keep finding myself thinking of certain scenes and elements of this installment, and I love it.
I'm not sure if I can write a coherent review of this book right now. There are so many layers to this story, so much to unpack, and yet still, as this is book 2 of 4, so much left to discover.

I am incredibly impressed by Ferrante's ability to develop characters that are real, more real than almost any other characters I have read before. They have ambition, are flawed, fight and love and inspire.

There is high probability I will come back and give this book a 5 star rating later, but for now I want to finish the series and accumulate my thoughts. Oh, and this book has one of the best pages of literature I've ever read, so there's that.

I can't wait to read books 3 & 4!
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
March 2, 2018
[From L'amie prodigieuse]


Choice of role

You can be either a bad girl or a good girl. When you have played a bit more, you can even try combining these two roles! See "Advanced options" below.

Bad girl

If you are a bad girl, you will be able to speak your mind and express your sexuality freely, but you will be beaten, raped and called a whore and a witch. You may also be subjected to other punishments, such as being disowned by your family or forced into a dangerous and poorly remunerated job.

Good girl

If you are a good girl, you will be grudgingly accepted by society, but you will have to work twenty-four hours a day to learn the complex rules you need to follow, you will constantly feel that you are a fraud and an imposter, and you will need to sleep with people who do not attract you while pretending that they do.

Goal of the game

Your goal is to have children and live long enough to see them grow up only mildly damaged. You will find that this is harder than it sounds, but that's all part of the fun!

Advanced options

When you have played the game a few times, you may want to try combining the bad girl and good girl roles. You may for example be a bad girl who gets married and tries to stay faithful to her husband, or a good girl who writes a daring and truthful novel about her life. Note however that none of these strategies will actually let you win.

Useful tips

If you decide to get serious about WOMAN™, there are several excellent books which will help you improve your skills. Elena Ferrante's series is particularly good. Go out and buy a copy tomorrow, you won't regret it!


Spending too much time playing WOMAN™ can be very depressing. Make sure you take frequent breaks, and remember that it's only a game.


[To Celle qui fuit et celle qui reste]
Profile Image for Warwick.
824 reviews14.5k followers
March 21, 2018
I tore through this in a kind of furious curiosity, annoyed with myself for being so involved and annoyed with Ferrante for taking so long to do what she does. The plot, heavy on frustrated emotion, is drawn out with intense internal monologues and telenovela miscommunications – and yet the actual characters are so real, built with such psychological verisimilitude, that you are fascinated despite yourself. The effect is as though Doris Lessing spent a season guest-writing for Days of our Lives.

I personally find Ferrante's writing unexciting; there is something a little laborious about the way she assembles her story, something flat about the way narrative events are introduced. ‘The day went smoothly, apart from two episodes that apparently had no repercussions,’ she'll write. ‘Here's the first.’ Clunk, clunk. Sometimes the translation does not help, either:

I got mad, I said, “You are both mistaken: it's I who do what Lina wants, not the opposite.”

This just sounds so strange, so formal, especially for someone who's supposed to be angry. That ‘it's I who do’ is one of those weird artefacts of translationese where rigid grammatical correctness is placed above any sense of naturalism. When I hit a line like this, I drop out of the story until I've rewritten it in my head (You're both wrong: I'm the one doing what Lina wants, not the other way round). But despite all this, the characterisation is excellent: you just believe everything she says about these people. It's a talent some musicians have, too. Tom Waits can sing ‘Sha la la la la la la la’ and make it sound like an insight. Lenù and Lina are insightful, three-dimensional people, however bland I sometimes find the prose.

The characters' lifelikeness is perhaps the more surprising for how tightly constrained all their behaviour is by codes of convention. This is particularly true of the men, whose social obligations to be aggressive gave me faint but nevertheless exhausting flashbacks to the stupid expectations that groups of boys have about getting angry, about hitting people. And my upbringing was, by comparison, a ludicrously comfortable and middle-class one. Whereas in the Naples suburbi, the most innocuous comment about your sister or girlfriend can necessitate the extreme and immediate application of violence, thanks to what Ferrante describes as ‘the incredibly detailed male regulations’ dictating their lives.

It almost feels against the grain to talk about how men are treated in Ferrante, but I found it fascinating. She's not in the least censorious about their propensity for violence; she depicts it very organically as something imposed on them by an external – social – force. When Stefano is beating his wife, Ferrante describes him as

trying to assimilate fully an order that was coming to him from very far away, perhaps even from before he was born. The order was: be a man, Ste'…

And she is punctilious about showing how these imperatives are fostered by the women just as much as by the other men. ‘That was what we said, we girls, when someone didn't care much about us: that he wasn't a man.’ When Lila explains away her bruises by saying that she fell, Ferrante's understanding of the scene is exquisite:

She had used, in telling that lie, a sarcastic tone and they had all sarcastically believed her, especially the women, who knew what had to be said when the men who loved them and whom they loved beat them severely. Besides, there was no one in the neighborhood, especially of the female sex, who did not think that she had needed a good thrashing for a long time. So the beatings did not cause outrage, and in fact sympathy and respect for [her husband] increased—there was someone who knew how to be a man.

The curious thing about that passage is that she ascribes to Lila a command of irony that she, Ferrante, does not display herself. It's interesting in light of a line from a review in The Australian which has been splashed all over the covers of these novels: ‘Imagine if Jane Austen got angry’. This has the air of someone reaching for the only famous female novelist they can think of; but anyway, my point is that Austen would not have needed to explain that Lila's tone or her friends' belief was ironic, because for Austen the irony was embedded in the narrative voice itself – and was the more deadly for it.

In spite of all that stuff, let the record show that I have immediately started reading book three and that I hate myself.
Profile Image for Agnieszka.
258 reviews924 followers
October 11, 2017

I’m still a bit puzzled about the phenomen that Ferrante’s cycle is. I don’t find writing particuralry brilliant, I think I didn’t mark any single quote here and yet enjoyed the story. I thought it was very predictible at times, I could see what was coming and mostly hadn’t been suprised by the course of events and still kept reading. I can't say it was innovative or imaginative yet Ferrante managed to draw me in her world entirely. Maybe I’m mistaken, but as I mentioned in the review of MBF, I still haven’t spotted in the second volume anything to not maintain that Ferrante is excorcising her past. Her writing here feels too intimate, too personal to think about this one only as a fictional story. Perhaps her case is similar to other writers, including Edward St. Aubyn and his Patrick Melrose or My struggle by Karl Ove Knausgård that I’m reading now, and this is her way to deal with the demons of the past, a necessary step on the way to move on, to finally let go.

I’ve returned to Lila and Elena’ story after over two years and I find myself still engaged in their story and difficult friendship, the relationship that actually feels more like challenging than supporting each others. I was suprised how easily I entered their lives again and how much I rememberd from the previous tome. Of course some names eluded me but the main protagonists didn’t fade in my memory. Like in the first installment this one bases on choices girls had made already and its aftermaths. It’s useless to describing the plot for you either buy this story or not, either you’re involved and concerned their fates or are bored and somewhat dismissive, like, you know, such things still happen so what’s the point to write hundreds pages about it? I for my part was really engaged from the first page and thought that strength of the novel lies just in this meticulous description, this detailed dissection, this ugly at times mundanity and sheer ordinariness of their lives.

The Story of a New Name is about losing old self and identity and by adopting a new name, the husband’s name, forging the new one. It’s about struggling to remain oneself in mostly man’s world, where masculine point of view is sanctity and it’s highly unreasonable to defy established order. It’s about violence womens were still subjected to and time-honoured agreement to it. It’s about humilitian that not only fathers or husbands deliver but also women to themselves. It's about attempting to break the vicious circle of poverty and misery by abandoning not only family home, not even a quarter and neighbourhood but also a city if it needs.

Lila’s figure is more complicated one and she is far more reckless, rebellious and untamed than in the first volume, she hurts and degradates Elena because she herself is a victim. Their relationship once again is full of mutual resentments and envy and admiration and their sense of closeness more and more precarious. Ferrante doesn’t shy away from speaking of violence and abuse and rape and wife-beaters; she bluntly describes the ugly face of Lila’s marriage and where and why it failed. She lets us know the moment when the girls, young women actually, had to acknowledge the truth that no matter what they would do, no matter how much money Lila has now or how educated Elena is, they still would have no chance with thoroughbred, that true class and natural grace is not to buy or imitate.

I think I’m enjoying the story because it has an air of something tangible, it’s like hearing about people you know in real life, people you're supporting in their struggling. I don’t expect anything spectacular or flamboyant or bigger than life. And I think I’ll stop here.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,412 followers
August 16, 2016
When we get to the end of the second book in Ferrante’s quartet of novels, we think we see the genesis of that quartet: a twenty-day writing exercise that took the angst out of university graduation for Elena Greco, also called Lenù. Although I struggled through this volume, listening to the voices of teens talking about their confusion and noting their lack of confidence while they strode boldly ahead, all was forgiven in the last one hundred pages.

The girls are now women, having earned a few hard-won truths they will use to the end of their days. The first lessons last longest. Lina and Lenù, the names barely distinguishable when heard, have discovered that in early 1960’s Italy, it is still a man’s world. Lina is unafraid and almost preternaturally resistant to control. She is curious, and furious. She is still the one we look to when we want to know what comes next. Her refusal to take what’s coming to her makes everyone, paradoxically, jealous of her.

Lenù is soft and bosomy and tries very hard to rustle up indignation about world peace, about Lina taking a lover (Lenù's lover), about her prospects after university. She wants to feel things as deeply and as ardently as Lina. When she sees Lina again at the end of this novel, we can tell she knows she will never reach those depths. And perhaps it is just as well. One must have the whole package if one is to survive those depths: a fierce, innovative intelligence and an unrelenting determination to survive on one’s own terms.

Put in the context of world literature, this series is developing into something remarkable. The voices of women in a man’s world are so seldom heard without interference or distortion. While that may not be true today, it was certainly true in 1960’s Italy, and to have even a glimpse behind the veil is something precious. But this is fiction, you protest. Ah, nobody could make a world so complete, so filled with recognizable motivations, were it not at least close to a kind of universal truth.

Besides that, there is the style of the work: it is so accessible, so female, so filled with things men would never say, never contemplate saying. We all grew up reading the writing of men, so we can consider ourselves experts. This work is different. It dwells on minutiae. The aspects of characters are raked over, head to foot, for what they reveal about that character’s state of mind and intention. The story slows while we contemplate their dilemmas, and like women everywhere, put ourselves in their place. It is a kind of soap opera, but the very best kind. It is the kind that teaches us something about how the world works and how other have dealt with circumstances we might encounter.

But it may be the language that is the most remarkable thing of all. Throughout the novel we hear Lenù talking about dialect versus Italian, implying that there are things that can be said in Italian that can not be conveyed in dialect. Well, it seems that there is also a kind of alchemy here that relates to the language Ferrante uses that gives us direct access to the hearts and minds of two women on the cusp of adulthood. Other people have tried to do this, but Ferrante has succeeded beyond the borders of her own country, beyond her generation, beyond her sex. When Elena says she went to Lina at the end of the novel to “show her what she had lost and what I had won,” we wait for it…wait for the penny to drop…
"[Lina] was explaining to me that I had won nothing, that in the world there is nothing to win, that her life was as full of varied and foolish adventures as much as mine, and that time slipped away without any meaning, and it was good just to see each other very so often to hear the mad sound of the brain of one echo in the mad sound of the brain of the other."
Ferrante deserves the attention she has had from this series of novels. It is world-class literature that deserves a place in the pantheon. I am looking forward to Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.

For those following this series, or those put off by the covers, please note there is a debate raging in literary circles about just this topic: The Atlantic magazine contributor Emily Harnett wrote a piece explaining the publisher's point in deciding on the covers as they are.
Profile Image for Jennifer Welsh.
227 reviews174 followers
May 9, 2023
Reading Elena Ferrante’s second book in her Neapolitan series felt like a return to a time when working-class teens married young and were forced to play the role of adults. How well Ferrante captured this mix of adult responsibility and adolescent urge in each character, as well as in the overall tone! I felt immersed in the delicious excitement of girlhood friendship and first times, and how all decisions must be navigated within the loyalty of the one friendship that matters most.

Lately, I feel like everything matters more than it used to. The problems we’re all dealing with seem now to be of the highest stakes. But perhaps life is really a series of crossing thresholds? I believe one of the hardest is the transition to adulthood: going from that place where your stomach is in knots from all that happens to you, to being faced with the choices that will shape the rest of your life.

This book is wonderful at capturing what it’s like to rise above your community of origin, and what it’s like to abandon it even if it means you fall. Here, the experiences are of ambitious, intelligent, female teens marked by a working class neighborhood where violence is the primary language. The friendship between the two women is symbiotic: They live without each other for long stretches, but the threads of one another are permanently interwoven, forcing a constant seesaw of success and sacrifice. Of course, this leads to betrayals.

Ferrante also wonderfully captures the fate of a smart, gorgeous, hard-working girl whose only choice for her future lies in which man she will attach to, and how she will use other influential males in the community. We see how she tries to let academic learning fall away because there’s no use for it in her every day, and yet her drive to devour ideas is not easily thwarted. To change would mean to no longer be compatible with the world she grew up in. So, one half of this pair makes the decision to go, one to stay; both decisions can be lonely, both exciting, both incomplete.

Ferrante is good. I like her more than I thought I would. Her first two novels in this series are relatable and immersive, and of the first three, this was my favorite. I liked book-one more than I thought I would, too. This one goes deeper, and I think a reader can start here, and later read the first for background. Be warned, however: this one ends on a cliffhanger.

320 reviews348 followers
February 21, 2019
مين اللى ميحبش ليلا ولينا؟ ومين اللى ميكرهش ليلا ولينا؟

ليلا التى أكرهها هى ليلا النزقة، ليلا التى لا تكترث بما يحكيه الآخرون وتهتم فقط بما تحكيه وبما لديها من مغامرات، بالنسبة لليلا الكل عدم وهى فقط من تستحق أن تولى الاهتمام، أكره ليلا الخائنة التى تجرى وراء شهواتها، ليلا التى منحت - بسذاجة غير معتادة منها – نينو كل شئ فسلبها هو كل شئ وهرب كطفل، أكره ليلا لأنها نجحت فى أن تحطم حياتها بدءاً من قبولها بالزواج من ستيفانو هرباً من ابن سولارا، مروراً بنزواتها مع نينو، ونهاية بقبولها العمل فى مصنع برونو.
لدى أسبابى أيضاً للتعاطف وربما حب ليلا، ذكاء ليلا الحاد، سرعة بديهتها، قوتها وشراستها الغير قابلة للترويض، حبها لذاتها، قسوة الأيام معها التى وضعت فى طريقها أصناف قذرة من الرجال أمثال ابن سولارا وستيفانو ونينو ورينو وحتى والدها فرناندو، ليلا كانت ضحية اعترف بذلك ولكنها كانت تملك القدرة بفضل ذكائها وقوتها وحضورها الطاغى أن تحول بين هؤلاء وبين أهدافها، لكن العوز والحاجة والفقر الذين عاشت ليلا تحت وطأتهم فى طفولتها ربما كانت أسباب دفعت ليلا لقنص أول فرصة لاحت لها للخروج من نفق الفقر المظلم

حان الدور الآن للحديث عن لينا ربما أحببت لينا أكثر من ليلا فى الجزء الاول لكن عبر الجزء الثانى تقلبت مشاعرى تجاه لينا لينا ربما وقعت فريسة لسذاجتها تارة وفريسة لغيرتها الشديدة وحساسيتها المفرطة تجاه صديقتها ومحاولة إثبات أنها الأفضل تارات، أحببت لينا المثابرة والدؤوبة على دراستها وكرهت لينا المتخاذلة التى تفرط فى دروسها، أحببت لينا الصديقة الوفية والتى تحملت رعونة صديقتها وجلافة أسلوبها وكرهت لينا التى تحسد وتتمنى زوال النعمة من يد صديقتها، أحببت لينا عندما سمحت لقلبها وعفويتها أن تقودها وترتبط ببييترو وكرهتها عندما ألقت بنفسها بين براثن ساراتورى الأب، أحببت لينا عندما كتبت روايتها الخاصة وكرهت شغفها بابن ساراتورى وهى تعرف أنه لا يحبها وربما يتسلى بها وبصديقتها، أحببت لينا رغم كل شئ

لينا كانت تعرف مكامن قوتها وضعفها وهذا أهم ما ميز لينا عن ليلا لكنها لم تكن تعرف كيف تستغل مصدر قوتها وسطوتها على صديقتها فعاشت طفولتها ومراهقتها ظلاً تؤدى كما تؤدى ليلا، تُحسن كما تُحسن ليلا، وتُسئ كما تُسئ ليلا، عاشت طفولة ومراهقة على غير هدى، بطبيعة الحال لم يكن لأسرتها أى دور فى ذلك وكانت وحدها المسئولة.

الفارق الجوهرى بين ليلا ولينا، أن الأولى عاشت لإرضاء نفسها فقط كانت أنانية؟ نعم كانت أنانية، أما لينا فأحبت أن يحبها الجميع أو أن تلقى التقدير والاحترام من الجميع ولكنها لم تنجح فى ذلك وأخشى عليها من خسارة بييترو فى الأجزاء التالية إذا ما استمرت فى اللهث وراء ليلا تارة ووراء نينو تارات.
كانت رحلة جديدة رائعة بين نابولى وبيزا وجنوة وميلانو وباريس بدأتها صحبة سيدة الجودريدز نيرة حسن ورحمة وإسراء ربما تأخرت فى إنهاءها عنهم ولكن أن تصل متاخراً خير من أن لا تصل أبداً على وعد بأن لا أتأخر ثانية وإلى الملتقى فى العاشر من مارس مع الجزء الثالث الهاربون والباقون.
Profile Image for Brown Girl Reading.
349 reviews1,590 followers
March 30, 2021
This book really blew me away. Book 1 of this series didn't really impress me so I wasn't really sure what to expect. The storytelling is incredible. The attention to detail is remarkable and really adds everything to the story. Funny this story is full of despicable characters. There isn't one that is redeemable. Despite this the story is so engrossing and I can't wait to get on to book 3. It's like a train wreck you can't turn away from. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
871 reviews1,759 followers
March 29, 2020
Such whirlwind of emotions, it just doesn't give me the chance to settle down. It was hard to put it down. I will definitely write more here but first I want to know what happens next, so now I am on to next book.
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews515 followers
May 25, 2018
Phenomenal Favola--Due Amici

This is the second of a tetralogy called the "Neopolitan Novels," by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante (pseudonym), who says she considers the four volumes to constitute one novel. The books were so popular in Italy that the periodical publications regularly engaged in a game of speculation on the author's true identity.

The books center on the lives and friendship of two girls from Naples, Italy, Elena Greco (called sometimes "Lenù") and Raffaella ("Lila") Cerullo. Both are intelligent and precocious young students in the first book called My Brilliant Friend, which takes them up to 16 years old. This one, The Story of a New Name carries them to their mid-20s. Elena is the narrator, but it's truly about both of them, and all that relationship entails through the years, including intellectual and sexual competition and envy, and support for each other as they attempt to rise above their poor, vulgar and sometimes violent neighborhood on the Naples outskirts.

In some ways, Ms. Ferrante's writing reminds me of that by the Norwegian Karl Ove Knaussgard in his six-volume My Struggle, so conversational and existential without being overly gloomy. I can't pin down exactly why but I find these books absolutely absorbing and fascinating. I want to keep reading... and reading.... It's like a dip into the soul of the authors, their daily lives, and the intriguing neighborhood interrelationships, friendships, as the authors call you forth, in examining their own lives, to examine yours, your childhood, childhood friends, being an adult, growing older, how sad things turn out for many who could not escape their surroundings, your recollections of certain things but haziness on others, the meaning of art and lit in life and to a full life, the meaning of your upbringing in your life, the ways you are like and differ from your parents when you become a parent, the place you grew up, how it felt to be isolated, in love with someone, to lose them to another, in lust, puppy love, your first sexual encounter, how you felt upon seeing someone again or for the first time in years and years. The Neopolitan novels are full of good and evil and eccentric characters.

I found the first novel a little tedious at times because it mostly involved elementary age kids. Unlike the Karl Ove novels, it is necessary to read these in order. For this second one, I was all in, finding it simply jaw-dropping at times. I'm already halfway through the 3d now, I've enjoyed them so much.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,764 followers
May 5, 2015
It is the early-mid 1960s and Naples is experiencing an economic and cultural renaissance: the post-war boom has created a new consumer class, with fancy shoe boutiques staffed by pretty girls dressed up like Jackie O. In university halls, students speak of the two Germanys, Indochina, nuclear arms, and Communism.

But not everything has changed. In the darker neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, where violence is an accepted means of communication and a woman’s worth is tallied by first her father, then her husband, tradition vies with progress.

It is here we left Lila on her wedding day, at the end of Book One of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, My Brilliant Friend. Elena watched from the sidelines as her best friend sashayed into a life of comfort, buoyed by her husband Stefano’s economic success.

But how quickly fortunes shift. Book Two, The Story of a New Name, is still Lina and Elena’s story. The new name belongs to the girl who exchanged her father’s name for her husband’s yet remains confined to the old way of life, while a new life is granted to the plump, shy, awkward, girl who is able to continue her education. Womanhood awaits them both, but we see how conflicted Elena has become, feeling ever in the shadow of Lila’s magnetic beauty. The day of her marriage, Elena helps Lila prepare:
I washed her with slow, careful gestures, first letting her squat in the tub, then asking her to stand up: I still have in my ears the sound of the dripping water, and the impression that the copper of the tub had a consistency not different from Lila’s flesh, which was smooth, solid, calm. I had a confusion of feelings and thoughts: embrace her, weep with her, kiss her, pull her hair, laugh, pretend to sexual experience and instruct her in a learned voice, distancing her with words just at the moment of greatest closeness.

But in the end there was only the hostile thought that I was washing her, from her hair to the soles of her feet, early in the morning, just so that Stefano could sully her in the course of the night. I imagined her naked as she was at that moment, entwined with her husband, in the bed in the new house, while the train clattered under their windows and his violent flesh entered her with a sharp blow, like the cork pushed by the palm into the neck of a wine bottle. And it suddenly seemed to me that the only remedy against the pain I was feeling, that I would feel, was to find a corner secluded enough so that Antonio could do to me, at the same time, the exact same thing.

I posited that My Brilliant Friend is a novel of power; The Story of a New Name is about trust. In the opening scene, set some fifty years after Lila’s wedding, Elena betrays her friend’s trust, saying “I couldn’t stand feeling Lila on me and in me, even now that I was esteemed myself, even now that I had a life outside of Naples.” She dumps the journals Lila had given her for safekeeping into the Arno River, but then she turns back and tells Lila’s story to us, her readers, so that we’ll remember Lila, and the old neighborhood, forever.

Lila and Stefano’s marriage is built on sand, but it is a castle they manage to rebuild over and over again in the early years. Lila trusts her cleverness and beauty will protect what she most wants: control; Stefano trusts his position as husband and provider will allow him the same. Elena knows better than to put her faith in Lila, but she does, time and again, until her best friend shatters her heart. The young man whose affections she has been pining for since childhood turns his brooding eye to Lila, the young bride. The affair becomes Lila’s undoing, while at the same time Elena begins her slow rise, far from Naples and whirlpool of tradition and family. She escapes Lila’s fate:
I saw clearly the mothers of the old neighborhood. They were nervous, they were acquiescent. They were silent, with tight lips and stooping shoulders, or they yelled terrible insults at the children who harassed them. Extremely thin, with hollow eyes and cheeks, or with broad behinds, swollen ankles, heavy chests, they lugged shopping bags and small children who clung to their skirts. They had been consumed by the bodies of husbands, fathers, brothers, whom they ultimately came to resemble, because of their labors or the arrival of old age, of illness. When did that transformation begin? With housework? With pregnancies? With beatings?

But Elena cannot escape the dream that is Lila, the girl whom she knows to be more intelligent, quicker, more articulate—the real scholar. Elena handwrites a draft of a novel and offers it as a university graduation gift to a boyfriend, who passes it along to his mother, a book editor. And suddenly she is swept up in success. But it is Lila’s spirit that wrote Elena's book, even though it came from Elena’s hands. Elena discovers The Blue Fairy, a short novel Lila had written as a child, and realizes Lila’s words and voice are
the secret heart of my book. Anyone who wanted to know what gave it warmth and what the origin was of the strong but invisible thread that joined the sentences would have had to go back to that child’s packet, ten notebook pages, . . . the brightly colored cover, the title and not even a signature.
And in a gesture of trust and love for her friend, Elena returns the story to Lila, admitting, “I read it again and discovered that, without realizing it, I’ve always had it in my mind. That’s where my book comes from.” It is the story of a new name.

Yet would seem too late for redemption from Elena. Lila is lost, a fallen woman, the transformation Elena observed and dreaded a few years earlier in the wives of the old neighborhood has overcome her friend. Lila tosses her story into the flames and Elena leave Naples.

But Elena and Lila are still young, only in their mid-twenties, and there is still so much of their stories yet to tell.
Profile Image for Maria Bikaki.
793 reviews384 followers
June 17, 2017
Βλέπω παντού αστεράκια, πολλά αστεράκια 4 αστεράκια από δω 5 αστεράκια από κεί, κάποιοι θα βαζαν και 15 αν μπορούσαν το νιώθω και θέλω να πετάξω το 1 το αστεράκι αλλά φοβούμαι τις απανταχού φανατικές αναγνώστριες. Όχι πλάκα κάνω 3 αστεράκια αλλά μέχρι εκεί και αυτό περισσότερο γιατί αναγνωρίζω την ποιότητα της συγγραφέως αλλά δυστυχώς ούτε και στο δεύτερο βιβλίο βρήκα κάποιο στοιχείο που να μου κρατήσει τόσο πολύ αμείωτο το ενδιαφέρον. Να σου διηγηθώ εγώ κυρία Φερράντε μου ιστορίες με άσπονδες φίλες μου να δεις ένα best seller δεκάτομο που θα κανα να κλαίει δέκα μέρες η Νάπολη και όλα τα περίχωρα. Είμαι η μόνη που δε συμπαθώ καμία από τις δύο ηρωίδες? Θα μου πεις για να σε συγκινήσει ένα βιβλίο δε σημαίνει απαραίτητα ότι πρέπει να αγαπήσεις τους κεντρικούς ήρωες αλλα αυτές οι δύο μανταμίτσες ούτε καν το νεύρο κρόσσι δε μου κάνουν να χω τουλάχιστον κάτι να τις κράξω. Γενικο συμπέρασμα: Ναι μεν αλλά. Κάτι μου λείπει σε αυτή την ιστορία το οποίο δεν έχω εντοπίσει και αρνούμαι να ταξιδέψω με την ιστορία αυτή στο βαθμό που πίστευα και ήθελα ή απλά έχω γίνει μια τέλεια αναίσθητη γαϊδούρα αναγνώστρια. Διαλεχτε και πάρτε.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,004 reviews36k followers
August 25, 2016
Geeee, Holy moly...."PEDAL TO THE METAL"!!!!! In the same way, I've binge watched
TV series ---shows everyone else had watched---I'm having my first

BOOK TWO has readers FULL ATTENTION immediately. No creepy-crawling into
"The Story of a New Name". As good as "My Brilliant Friend" was...this is BETTER-
It goes deeper into the most private lives of all the characters - especially Elena and Lila.
Their lives have taken different routes ( Lila married Stefano Carracci, which comes prosperous advantages of material benefits)...
Elena, finishes High School and attends University.
They birth question the path they have taken in life - they both are still competitive with each other- ( even over one's virginity) -

This book was impossible to put down --I tell ya --I ate it! It gave me indigestion at times- a painful gut- ( I needed to grab some peppermint tea to calm my nerves once - but I still wouldn't let Paul or anyone pull me away from this book)....
It was torture at times-- I found it to be much more more RAW PERSONAL than book 1

Themes this book covers:
.... Betrayal
....rape - abuse - rape - abuse
....the girls are becoming young women....( ages 16 to 22)
..... Sacrifice....and suppression...inner suffering
..... Trust ...( depths of trust)
.....friendship- marriages - children - adultery: love/hate relationship (bitterness, pity, egos)
.....plotting - manipulation- intrigue - calculating - dependency - jealousy
.....extreme disappointment - shock - hurt - anger - bad choices -
.... Competition over men
....Intelligence - education - ( advancement and setbacks)
.....status differences
THIS IS AND ALL CONSUMING READ.....but....we are left hanging at the end (go figure)

** note....with so much binge - reading - I feel a little like Elena when she said
"the less pedantic part of me was well aware of Lila's unpredictability, so I couldn't wait to get out of the house".

I need a fresh air break.....
Book 3 starting later tonight: a dip in the pool first!
Profile Image for Robin.
484 reviews2,618 followers
September 17, 2016
4.5 stars

This, the second instalment of the Neapolitan series, held my attention in a vice grip from the first minute. It continues into young adulthood the story of the friendship of Lenu and Lila - a complex, competitive connection which spurs on much DRAMA.

Yes, drama, drama, drama - so many fights, beatings, broken hearts, betrayals, pregnancies (it made me laugh a little how they are always surprised at what results from repeated unprotected sex) and oh so much more! Such high highs, such low lows. (And a few frankly shocking moments, including one very icky one that I hope is explained somehow in the next book.) At times I felt I was following an Italian soap opera.

However, I was totally drawn in, fascinated at the arc of Lenu and Lila's lives, in awe of how the author is able to to constantly get into the psychology of the moment, and make me care about the cast of characters I've come to know. The struggles of making it out of the neighbourhood, doing something that counts, being the best, education, rising above poverty and the stigma of the neapolitan accent are all drivers that propel the action. And, of course, love.

As I said, I'm all in. Can't wait to start the next!

Profile Image for Melanie.
Author 6 books1,202 followers
November 14, 2013
"Partly because her work describes domestic experiences – such as vivid sexual jealousy and other forms of shame – that are underexplored in fiction, Ferrante’s reputation is soaring, especially among women (Zadie Smith, Mona Simpson and Jhumpa Lahiri are fans). Her writing has a powerful intimacy – as if her characters, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, are the lenses through which we read our own minds. The novelist Claire Messud emailed, “When you write to me and say you love her work, I have a moment where I think, ‘But … Elena is my friend! My private relationship with her, so intense and so true, is one that nobody else can fully know!’ It’s strange – and rare – to feel proprietary of a book, or a writer, in that way.”"

"In a 2003 written interview, Ferrante said, “The true reader, I think, searches not for the brittle face of the author in flesh and blood” but instead for “the naked physiognomy that remains in every effective word”. Whoever Ferrante is, in the novel she is free to invent, to fabricate, to play, to revisit old wounds, to be less than beautiful. This is what writing can do: create a space for the savage within, for the contradictory and the wild, and make it real. There may be no consolation except the art itself, but what a pleasure for those of us who get to read it. I would not want to forget what Ferrante herself so eloquently stated in one of her letters: the mystery of literature is in some ways its difference from the person who wrote it, the unfathomable effacement of self that leads to its creation."

Meghan O'Rourke in The Guardian

To create a space for the savage within, for the contradictory and the wild, and make it real.

I could not express what these Neapolitan novels do any better than Meghan O'Rourke does in her fiercely intelligent and perceptive review of Elena Ferrante's novels for the Guardian.

You will simply never experience women characters in this way anywhere else. You get to read and feel the female psyche with more vibrancy and complexity and beauty than you can ever hope to find in a literary work. And the novels never feel literary. The characters feel as if they are coming into being right in front of your eyes, sentence by sentence, page by page, in a electrifying mess of living matter.

One of the most thrilling reading experiences I've had in recent years.

Meghan O'Rourke's review can be read in full here:
Profile Image for Lena.
183 reviews73 followers
January 10, 2022
Brilliant, deeply phycological and emotional story of friendship and growing up. Interesting, sometimes unpredictable plot in exotic Italy in the middle of the last century. Emotional melodrama and complex relationship uncover various social problems. Demonstrates how upbringing and lack of education can shackled into poverty and violence even the brightest intelligence.
Profile Image for Célia Loureiro.
Author 15 books749 followers
September 26, 2022
Nunca pensei que este segundo volume da tetralogia superasse o primeiro, mas a verdade é que o senti pelo menos tão intenso quanto “A amiga genial”. Senti o livro igualmente profundo, igualmente pertinente. A cada página, Ferrante recorda-nos daquilo que foi o século XX na Europa do Sul, a ascensão de uma pobreza abjeta, de uma miséria obscura, das classes mais vulneráveis para a classe média. O papel dos estudos, do capitalismo, da imagem, no desenvolvimento social e na emancipação das mulheres. Parece-me que a Lila causa aversão a muitos leitores, porém permanece a minha personagem favorita. Ela permite-se ser feliz, permite-se arriscar e não tem medo de nada. Mas a vida, as amarras em torno do seu género, a prisão do bairro e a sua pertença, primeiro ao pai, depois a um marido, impedem-na de exercer o seu direito à liberdade.

Termina com uma reviravolta agradável que me levou aos meus tempos de estudante, à época em que sabia que sem um diploma nunca seria nada, nunca teria nada. E à publicação do meu primeiro livro, e ao sentimento de que, daí, viriam coisas maravilhosas.

Uma obra contemporânea com todos os contornos de um clássico e que conserva o sabor a contemporaneidade. Ferrante recorda-nos da longa estrada até sermos senhoras da nossa voz.

Venceu-se o preconceito de mulheres na escola, de mulheres a tomarem decisões sobre a sua sexualidade. Venceu-se o patriarcado, a ideia de que a mulher pertence aos filhos e à casa. Venceu-se tanto, e há tanto ainda a vencer…
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Author 8 books781 followers
August 24, 2016
This Europa editions' cover is silly, even more unsuitable than the cover of the first book of the series. Ferrante's focus is not on romance at all -- there is nothing romantic about the desperate, grasping lives these people lead -- her scope is epic: social and political.

In my review of My Brilliant Friend I noted that flight was not yet an option for the girls. Even if it becomes so, the impossibility of fleeing your origins hovers over them in this installment. While reading one section, I was reminded of the 1997 movie The Boxer (starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Emily Watson) with its masculine code-of-"honor" within its own working-class neighborhood, a code that uses beatings to terrorize its own.

As with the first novel, the ending arrives abruptly. With both books, there are several blank pages following the end: a trick so you won't slow down as I might've, not wanting to get to the end yet; or a reminder that there's more to come?

I'm not sure I will get to the third book as quickly as I did this, as the translated fourth--and last--is not due here until September, forcing me to pace myself.

Added July 14, 2016:

I just came across this article about the intentional 'badness' of the covers. (That hadn't even crossed my mind.) http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainm...

'Ferrante’s publisher even expressed concern to Slate that “many people didn’t understand the game we we’re playing, that of, let’s say, dressing an extremely refined story with a touch of vulgarity.” Certainly, readers aren’t required to enjoy the cloying sensibility of the images just because they’re intentionally bad, and because Ferrante herself chose them.'
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