My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante
Series: The Neapolitan Novels #1
Published: September 25th 2012
Genres: Adult Fiction
Format: eBook (331 pages)
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.
I got to the end of My Brilliant Friend and felt like I was missing something. Perhaps it was the plot. It went like this: two girls are friends/enemies, they get their periods and grow up, one gets married and he turns out to be a jerk. And this plot starts out in the most bizarre way. These two girls start walking up these stairs which reminds her of another story and that story reminds her of a different story until you have this Inception-like mess of stories within stories. They don’t reach the top of the stairs until 10 chapters later and by this point I’m not even sure what’s going on anymore. Is this real or not real? Can someone get Leonardo DiCaprio to spin a top for me and tell me when we get back to reality??
Since the plot is a mess, that leaves me to believe that this is a character driven story. There’s nothing wrong with character driven stories. That being said, I didn’t like any of these characters. Actually it was more that I didn’t care about any of them because I didn’t feel like I could really understand or relate to any of them.
Mostly I was just bored reading this. It felt like an old man was rambling on all these stories from the past that were pointless and didn’t have much connection to each other besides being in the past. The rambling feeling might have come from the fact that there was not much dialogue. Here’s an example of the narration style:
“That morning of the duel between Enzo and Lila is important, in our long story.”
–Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (kindle location 543 or 13%)
YES THIS STORY IS VERY LONG HOW HAVE I ONLY READ 13%
My last note in the margin of the book says this after the final sentence: I don’t get it.
Book Review of My Brilliant Friend on a Post-it