*I received this book from PGC Books in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: My Brilliant Friend
Author: Elena Ferrante
Publisher: Europa Editions
Edition Publication Date: October 2018
Synopsis on Goodreads:
My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.
What an epic tale My Brilliant Friend is and how vivid a story. This is only the first book in the Neapolitan Novels series by Ferrante. It is a story of two friends growing up in a poor neighbourhood, whose lives have taken very different things. Their friendship always had a strange power dynamic as they grew up in close competition with one another. The story is told through Elena’s eyes as she shows us little of her own home life and spends the majority of this book ruminating on her friendship with Lila and providing us with an in depth look into her relationship with this other girl. There is so much detail in these pages, it’s no wonder it’s been picked up as an HBO series!
Through Elena’s musings, and almost infatuation, on Lila, we learn the dynamics of their neighbourhood and the difficulties that the families there struggle with. The reader gets a very in depth look into this world as the children mature and grow into adolescence, slowly becoming aware of the world around them. As a historical fiction, this story speaks to a difficult time and place. It’s a rough-and-tumble neighbourhood, full of commonplace and widely accepted violence. It’s never nice, but it speaks to the tumultuous situation that these young girls are facing as they come of age. There is violence in the street and in the home. Girls are occasionally taken advantage of sexually by older men, but there is no platform for them to speak. Girls are powerless in this world, which is, historically speaking, not very far away from our own world. This narrative demonstrates a period of time that was incredibly difficult for women, and especially explores a scenario where women with little money had very little chance to freedom outside of the small neighbourhood where they were born.
I really enjoyed this story. It took my far too long to actually get through it, due to my own busy life circumstances, but I did enjoy it when I was able to sit down with it.
Has anyone else read it? Or seen the show? I’d love to get your thoughts on that!