If I dislike the book, I abandon book. Without a shred of guilt. But here’s how I tell the difference between me liking a book and loving a book. If I have a bit of spare time and I sit down with my IPAD intending to read but instead open up my newest game addiction Candy Crush Soda (to which 6-year-old Kaiya got me hooked), then I like the book.
I played a fair amount of Candy Crush Soda while reading My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante. At least at first.
My Brilliant Friend tells the story of two girls – Lila and Elena – growing up in a suburb of Naples during the years following World War II. Both girls are extremely bright, but Lila is held back by parents who don’t believe that daughters need to be educated. Instead, she is expected to become part of the family’s shoemaking and repairing business. Elena, on the other hand, is allowed (not necessarily encouraged) to continue her education.
The book offers the reader a vivid picture of Italy in those years when the people were getting back on their feet following the war. The characters are passionate, often violent, having and displaying strong emotions.
The two girls continue to be best friends, though they often find themselves competing against one another. Lila is probably the naturally smarter of the two girls, and the book ends with her getting married to a man who likely won’t give her what she truly wants from life.
The book is the first in a series referred to as the Neopolitan Novels. The fourth book in the series – The Story of the Lost Child – is scheduled to be released in September 2015. Interestingly, very little is known – or at least disclosed – about the author, even in her native Italy. She may or may not be a mother. She may or may not be from Naples. She gives no face-to-face interviews and has offered only a scattering of written interviews. Unusual behavior for an author, most of who are looking for every way possible to garner publicity.
Once I was fully ensconced in the book, I set Candy Crush Soda aside, and can recommend the book as an excellent story of friendship and an interesting portrayal of the Italian culture.
Buy My Brilliant Friend from Amazon here.
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Buy My Brilliant Friend from Changing Hands here.