My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend

Book One. Childhood, Adolescence

Book - 2012
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Penguin Putnam

Now an HBO series.

Book one in the New York Times bestselling Neapolitan quartet about two friends growing up in post-war Italy is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted family epic by Italy’s most beloved and acclaimed writer, Elena Ferrante, “one of the great novelists of our time.” (Roxana Robinson, The New York Times)
 
Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its protagonists, the fiery and unforgettable Lila, and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflictual friendship. Book one in the series follows Lila and Elena from their first fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence. 

Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.

“An intoxicatingly furious portrait of enmeshed friends,” writes Entertainment Weekly. “Spectacular,” says Maureen Corrigan on NPR’s Fresh Air. “A large, captivating, amiably peopled bildungsroman,” writes James Wood in The New Yorker.

Ferrante is one of the world’s great storytellers. With My Brilliant Friend she has given her readers an abundant, generous, and masterfully plotted page-turner that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight readers for many generations to come.


A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, 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.
 
The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.
 
Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a trilogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.


Baker & Taylor
Beginning in the 1950s Elena and Lila grow up in Naples, Italy, mirroring two different aspects of their nation.

Perseus Publishing

Now an HBO series: the first volume in the New York Times–bestselling “enduring masterpiece” about a lifelong friendship between two women from Naples (The Atlantic).

Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Elena Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its main characters, the fiery and unforgettable Lila and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflicted friendship. This first novel in the series follows Lila and Elena from their fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence.

Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between two women.

“An intoxicatingly furious portrait of enmeshed friends.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Spectacular.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“Captivating.” —The New Yorker



Baker
& Taylor

Beginning in the 1950s Elena and Lila grow up in Naples, Italy, mirroring two different aspects of their nation. (This book was previously listed in Forecast.) Original. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Europa Editions, 2012
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781609450786
1609450787
Branch Call Number: FICTION FERRANTE 2014
Characteristics: 331 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Goldstein, Ann 1949-

Opinion


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The Neapolitan Novels

As a children’s librarian, I read (and love) tons of books for kids and young adults, but I still find myself needing to return to my English-major roots and pick up a long literary novel from time to time. And I’m so glad that I happened upon Elena Ferrante’s series The Neapolitan Novels as my most recent choice. I’ve heard them hyped up for a while, but didn’t know much about them going in,… (more)


From Library Staff

List - Best of 2018
bmbush Dec 13, 2018

This is the first installment in the series referred to as the Neapolitan Novels by Italian author Elena Ferrante. The first season of the four season series is available now through HBO. I picked up the first book with a touch of skepticism because I had heard so much buzz about the series and a... Read More »


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a
alfredfrenzel
Sep 06, 2020

NYT recommended first read by ferrante

l
lindemuldercr
Sep 02, 2020

Modern Mrs Darcy

s
SFBookAddict
Apr 02, 2020

I found this book at a Little Free Library so decided to give it a chance, even though it's the first book of a trilogy and I wasn't keen on investing time in reading three books. I visited Naples twice in my 20s, in 1975 and in 1979 (the latter as a solo traveler) and unfortunately found it sinister and scary so I was rather curious what life is like there. This book answered my curiosity. It was an interesting story and gave me a realistic sense of life there in the late 1950s. The friendship between the two girls is complicated but then again life in Naples, still trying to rebuild itself after WWII, was complicated and historically always has been. The main characters, Elena and Lila, are two strong, Neapolitan girls trying to make their way through childhood and adolescence. There are not many opportunities and very little support for these girls. It is not a happy story, sometimes gritty, but I did not find it depressing. My favorite character, Elena, is the narrator, and I cheered her on to succeed as a student. I am curious what happens to them down the road so may read the other two books. There are a lot of people in the book so the list of characters in the front came in very handy to help sort out who is who. Those who have visited Naples though and interested in Italy might enjoy reading this book. At times, the translation fell apart and I didn't understand some passages despite rereading them. Or maybe it was my American brain having difficulty wrapping itself around Neapolitan ways and thinking. I have a better understanding of Naples and applaud the author for bringing this story to paper.

s
SunsetBranch
Mar 04, 2019

The best of the series; the rest got a little too soap-operaish. The last book is harrowing

s
spudwil
Aug 10, 2018

I’ve given up trying to finish this book. I had high expectations due to all the positive reviews but I get so confused with all the characters that I’m never entirely sure who’s who. Usually I love the book club selections but not this time.

c
colleenmmm
Aug 12, 2016

Took me into a world I am not familiar with, which I like. Complex characters. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

s
singidunum_25
Jul 29, 2016

There are many qualities about this particular book, but being fast read is not one of them. I wasn't moved by characters or the story even though they were developed nicely as well as time period. It feels like one very long narration, retelling of events from the third person point of view. Expressed emotions and translation were not even close to Ellena Ferrante's The days of Abandonment. Maybe I just expected too much so book didn't live up to it's hype....Would I dive into the second book right away? No, but at some point I will come back....

f
FVReader
Jul 09, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked the complex nature of Elena and Lila's relationship, even if I didn't understand the attraction at times. Friendship is complicated.
The community surrounding these two friends is lively and volatile. The European feel of a community comes through with the gossip, the leaning out the windows, the knowing of everyone's business. It was delightful and entertaining.
From the first pages, one knows that one has to be invested in the entire series to go the full circle that the first chapter reveals. This book takes us up to when the girls are 16.

Believe the hype, y'all. Ferrante captures a world so vividly and effortlessly that 1950s Naples feels familiar, no matter where you grew up. This is largely because of her deep understanding of childhood friendship, of feelings that fluctuate from minute to minute yet, at their core, stay forever unchanged. Plus, the last sentence. (And don't read ahead - it won't mean anything unless you've read the whole book.)

s
singasong70
Feb 06, 2016

I, too, am finding it a difficult read. Rambles at times, brings the word "flight of ideas" strongly to mind; not sure where she's headed at any point, same place she seemed to be heading or shot off in an entirely different direction? Lost my place more than once as to time frame involved; in other words; I don't get it! (Yet)

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I feel no nostalgia for our childhood: it was full of violence. Every sort of thing happened, at home and outside, every day, but I don t recall having ever thought that the life we had there was particularly bad. Life was like that, that’s all, we grew up with the duty to make it difficult for others before they made it difficult for us. Of course, I would have liked the nice manners that the teacher and the priest preached, but I felt that those ways were not suited to our neighborhood, even if you were a girl. The women fought among themselves more than the men, they pulled each other’s hair, they hurt each other. To cause pain was a disease.

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