My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels #1)My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

This kind of book is difficult to find – it moves with great ease and vibration, yet it doesn’t give you the nervous feeling of wasting your time with yet another contemporary exploration of the depths of everyday life (that are only the depths of boredom and complacency as it is with Knausgaard, with whom Ferrante is often compared).
Although this novel is written in an autobiographical way as well (it’s a story of two girls, growing up in after-war Naples), the author is aware that in order to produce something valuable, it is not enough to live and write about it. She knows how to transmit that life to her book, how to give it its own force. You end up sucked into the whirl of friendship and its tensions. It is as picturesque and noisy as a novel can get without turning the psychological insights and interpersonal dynamics into soap opera. In my opinion, it’s a perfect holiday book and you get two new friends out of it.

47 Comments

  1. Thanks very much for following my blog, which is much appreciated. I wish you good luck and happiness with your own writing.
    Pete.

    • Thank you very much for the kind words. I really like the peaceful rhythm coming from your writings, it makes me feel calm and relaxed. Thank you for sharing. Frona

  2. I definitely enjoyed all four books in the series and yes, she manages to write eloquently about everyday life without boredom or sentimentality.

    • Indeed, all four of them are great! I’ve read them when I had a couple of days off and I barely left my sofa. Nice to get to meet you, I look forward to read and see more of your posts:)

  3. i think they’re brilliant books but so intense I can only manage one about every six months. It’s like having a shouting match type conversation with someone who’s constantly on the verge of making some desperate decision and keeps wanting to talk about it! But I do agree they certainly aren’t boring…

    • I think I know what you mean, every casual event really was of paramount importance here, deeply rooted in something bigger then itself. I think the only reason I wasn’t burdened by this also, was that her simplicity of style just created a perfect counterweight for me:)

  4. I read those books one by one when they came out, and pressed this first one on everyone I know. It’s nice to find someone else who loves them. Nice to see a fellow reader following my blog; I’ll look forward to yours. 🙂

    • I agree, everyone should read them. I have little success convincing others about it though, hope you’re doing better:) Thank you, I look forward to reading more of your blog also!

  5. Neat review, well written apart from too many typos.
    Sorry.

  6. My dear lady,
    Just because I am cheap, it does not mean I am inexpensive!
    I love your response, very positive, well done.

  7. You describe it perfectly when you say Ferrante was able to imbue the book with the force and intensity of her feelings. I also got sucked wholly into the story and enjoyed the whole series, although I enjoyed the first and second book the most.

    • Thank you, I’m glad you think the same! They really are most addictive, I’ve read them so quickly I can’t even differentiate between parts or say which one I prefer:)

  8. Interesting review. Anand Bose from Kerala

  9. Nice, terse review! Breath of fresh air

  10. I’ve just finished My Brilliant Friend. It’s a brilliant book. I like how the author digs deep into the friendship of the two girls. The depiction of Elena’s constant second guessing of herself to Lila, despite her own achievements in class is masterful. I can’t wait to read the second book and still hope that Ferrante keeps writing new novels.

    • It really is! The rest of them are amazing as well, as I hope you’ll soon find out. I’m impressed also, she manages to show the entire scope of feelings involved in a friendship and she seems to do this almost effortlessly!

  11. I’ve picked up and put down this book at least a dozen times while in the bookstore. It looked intriguing to me, but I just didn’t know if I would enjoy it. Well, now that I’ve read your review, I’ll be picking it up again in the bookstore – for real this time. 😉

    • I’m sooo happy it convinced you!:)
      Though the cover can be misleading, it’s not a cheesy book at all – if I were you, I’d buy the whole series!:)

  12. Thanks for your delightful review. Enjoy the weekend.

  13. Thank you so much for following us, looking forward to reading your blog again…

  14. My kind of review. Short, sweet and doesn’t tell almost everything. Sounds a scrumptious.read. 🙂

  15. Written by an enigmatic Italian author whose mother was a German Jew who fled the Nazis, I’d guess this is a better reframing of the spectacle of the mundane as literature than that of Knausgard, which pseudo-historic drivel on the verge of antisemitism I can’t stand. Thank you for following my blog! I’ll refollow. A lot of interesting stuff up here.

    • Furtonately, I gave up before I could reach the antisemitic part and had no idea that that’s where it goes. Thank you for your enlightening comment, now I know I didn’t miss anything. And thanks also for following back!

  16. I just finished, “My Brilliant Friend.” I’m an extremely critical reader, and I thought this book was really brilliant. It has stayed with me since I finished. Probably my favorite read of the last few years. And yes, it is true that is probably a good novel anyone’s life, but if it were easy to turn each life into the novel it could be, there were be a many more great novels than there are. This book had a terrific story to tell but it was also beautifully executed. I loved that it was both a complex story of two friends and also wove in so many stories that brought to life the time and place – the world in which the lived. thanks for following my blog. look forward to reading more of yours!

    • Yes, she really knows how to recreate the entire fragment of reality and I have no idea how she manages to develop one particular point of view to such a degree that it encompasses everything and leaves out nothing.. It stayed with me for months also. I hope you soon read the rest.
      Thank you for following back!

  17. What a wonderful review! With your way with words, I do hope you are a writer yourself! Oh and thank you for following my blog. I couldn’t help but return the favor! Look forward to getting to know you better in the future. Blessings back,

  18. I just got a copy from a used book sale. Thank you for the encouraging review.

  19. After reading your review, I’m definitely going to give the book a re-run. I tried to read it at a particularly busy time and never really got into but I would like to give it another shot – thank you!

  20. I like the way you succinctly describe the story and your reaction to it without laying out the plot.

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