My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend

Book - 2012
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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

Publisher: New York : Europa Editions, 2012
ISBN: 9781609450786
Characteristics: 331 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Goldstein, Ann 1949-
Alternative Title: Amica geniale. English


From Library Staff

Journey back to 1950s Italy as two female friends grow up together in a world where families and friends are in a constant state of conflict. Beautifuly written by the mysterious "Elena Ferrante" (a pen name for an author unknown).

From the critics

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Dec 10, 2019

The books in this trilogy describe fully, with the barest honesty, the emotional depths of two women navigating through life events from youth to old age, set in the violent swirl of the culture and politics of Neopolitan life in the 20th century. Ferrante's observation and understanding of the characters is as impressive as her ability to communicate them.

multcolib_susannel Jul 22, 2019

This is book one in this trilogy about Elena and Lila, whose lifelong friendship begins when they were children in a a poor neighborhood outside Naples.

SPL_Brittany Jan 20, 2019

I had really high hopes for this book given how enthusiatic the reviews were for this series. This novel is told in a leisurely pace, perhaps to allow you to get to really know the characters as the reader follows their journey. Ferrante writes a character driven novel where you really felt that you got to know each character and their relationships with each other in the close knit Italian district. If you like novels that focus on small towns and their dynamics, this novel fits the bill. Also, the author does a great job of creating a sense of place, where Italy becomes a second character, you can feel the grit and struggle of the people in this small district of Naples, and feel that if you were dropped into the novel, you would be familiar with its landscape. However, despite my enjoyment of these two qualities of her novel, it wasn't the book choice for me, the pace was too slow, and I couldn't connect to any of the characters.

There is much room for discussion in terms of relationships between the characters and the choices they make as the age, so I can see this being popular with book clubs. I don't know if I will continue reading the series, however I am interested in seeing how it translates on television.

Feb 10, 2018

Lila and Elena are elementary school friends in a rough Naples neighborhood just after WWII. Elena is a good girl; does as she’s told and makes high marks in school. Lila is a bit darker. She dares to disobey and even disrespect, and worries not a whit about the repercussions. She takes on bullies and befriends boys with unsavory intentions. Elena idolizes her. Both girls are smart and hungry for education, doubly unfortunate in an era and area with little to offer ambitious girls (at least those with ambitions other than marrying a step up). Elena is championed by a teacher, who insists to her parents that she be allowed to continue school. Lila’s family circumstances, and the lack of a teacher willing to go to bat for her, does not go on past elementary school, but she teaches herself Latin, Greek, and literature, and fans Elena’s intellectual ambitions with her own curiosity and determination and insights. The divergence in the paths laid out for the two girls is profound. Ferrante’s writing is intimate and unembellished; a joy to experience.

Nov 28, 2017

I didn't care for this book at all. I stuck it out for the whole thing and was just glad to be finished. Couldn't find anything about ANY of the characters that drew me in or made me care for them or what happened next.

Sep 29, 2017

I don't get the hype. 50 pages was enough for me.

Bunny_Watson716 Jul 12, 2017

I am so glad I read this book - I loved the complex account of the friendship between the two girls, the post WW2 Italy setting, and the denseness of Ferrante's writing. I can't wait to read the next book out of the four Neapolitan novels. Not a light summer read but very absorbing and memorable characters.

Mar 08, 2017

It’s been a couple days since I finished MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, and honestly I felt I had to allow myself some time for reflection before commenting. Keeping in mind the many fans of author Elena Ferrante and the glowing reviews this novel has received, I wondered: Were my initial reactions to this book faulty? Did I miss something? Sadly, after careful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusions: No, they weren’t and no, I didn’t. MY BRILLIANT FRIEND is neither a quick nor easy read so I would not advise starting it unless you have plenty of time and patience.

Jan 05, 2017

Read all four of the Neapolitan series by Ferrante. Her character is about ten years older than I am, therefore the I could empathetically trace her arc from childhood to university to motherhood and beyond which are described through the lens 2nd wave feminism. The violent poverty, the harshness of the Italian patriarchy, the naivety of the radical university students striving for a better society, the quest to find a space for work in the midst of the demands of motherhood are themes all thoughtfully rendered.

Oct 05, 2016

Unbelievably boring - not sure what all the hype is about. Just a rambling tale of kids - the main one not particularly nice!!

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Mar 08, 2017

“Her quickness of mind was like a hiss, a dart, a lethal bite.” - p. 48


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