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The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

The Story of a New Name (2012)

by Elena Ferrante

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Neapolitan Novels (2)

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1,281736,134 (4.24)108



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English (58)  German (4)  Italian (3)  Dutch (3)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All (72)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
"[...] she was explaining to me that I had won nothing, that in the world there is nothing to win, that her life was full of varied and foolish adventures as much as mine, and that time simply slipped away without any meaning, and it was good just to see each other every so often to hear the mad sound of the brain of one echo in the mad sound of the brain of the other." (98%)


What a rollercoaster. The thing is that these books are so intense and so emotionally exhausting, you end up feeling beside yourself when you finish. On hand you are marveled at the character development, the twists and turns of the plot, on another you are feeling so depressed and hopeless you might need to drown your sorrows into a cup of tea (or bourbon) just to feel like a human again.

This book is intense and so hard to rate. I hated it because of how desolate it made me feel. I also think it's a gripping story that ends with an effin' cliffhanger, again.

The character names are at times similar so you get confused or who is who. There are many nicknames and names to keep track of. It can make for a challenging reading experience, but a worthwhile one.

One thing is for certain, I have never read characters like the ones Ferrante writes about. Yes, they are fucking awful people but you feel for them. You identify with them, you try to reason or justify their faults, you want to believe the best in them. And when they disappoint you it feels like you're being gutted.

I am all about happy endings but I'm seriously wondering if it's even possible that Lenù or Lila will get theirs. ( )
  lapiccolina | Jun 23, 2017 |
Ferrante’s coming-of-age story, the second in her ‘Neapolitan Novels’ series, has a voice uniquely her own, and her writing is direct and honest. She also creates a couple of great characters at the center of the novel. Anyone who has had to overcome childhood adversity or an environment where academia and higher pursuits are not the norm will identify with Elena. In her case, it’s the chaotic world of a small, close-knit neighborhood in Naples, and a family that has never had anyone attend college. Her destructive, larger-than-life friend Lina, who marries early and finds herself in an abusive relationship, is also fascinating. Through her characters, Ferrante occasionally gives us insightful commentary on politics or literature, e.g. about America’s dropping of the atomic bomb at the end of WWII, or Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, and I wish the book had just a teeny bit more of that sort of thing. At its worst, it’s a bit like a soap opera, with characters from the various families falling into various intrigues, but at its best, it’s riveting and a page-turner, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. ( )
1 vote gbill | May 23, 2017 |
Well, I'm delighted to report that I found the "second book" to be as good as the first, if not better. The reason for the speech marks is that I don't believe this to be a second book at all. In the normal sense, a second book would mean maybe picking up a decade or so on, or perhaps would play with time and propel the reader back to an earlier point in time. Ferrante, however, picks up without drawing breath from the exact same scene that book 1 left on.

I therefore suspect we are being had, and that this is not a quartet of four novel but rather one big, ginormous, gargantuan mega novel that makes Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy look like a short story (this second book alone was 470 pages long).

That being said, hurrah for big, ginormous, gargantuan mega novels when they're as good as this! I was once again immersed in the characters and the tense setting of the backstreets of Naples, and the pages flew by.

Yet again the cover irked me, and my husband commented one morning without irony that it was a book that my Aunty Betty would probably enjoy. Aunty Betty is a spirited, much loved aunt of mine who reads, in my opinion, very poor quality romance novels that should never see the light of day. I told him he was mistaken and that this was 'literature' and not the type of book that Aunty Betty would ever read despite the cover, so he asked me to describe it to him. After I'd finished, he concluded "so it's a romance novel then".

I have to say it got me thinking. I said sneeringly in my review of Book 1 that the cover made it look like I was reading Barbara Taylor Bradford novel, but is that really so far from the truth? Fantastic as this Neapolitan quartet is, is the truth perhaps that this is just chick lit at its best but we're too snobbish to think of it as that so we're convincing ourselves it's literary fiction?

The jury is out in my head. However, I care less - whatever Ferrante is writing, I love it, and I can't wait to pick up the thread in Book 3.

4.5 stars - now where did I put that Danielle Steele book.... ( )
1 vote AlisonY | May 1, 2017 |

such a great exploration of what friendship means and imposter syndrome and trying to keep up and little unspoken rivalries and how closeness changes but can still stay and how you can love someone but be IRRITATED TO DEATH by them ( )
  ansate | Apr 14, 2017 |
A wonderful and exciting book, arguably better than the first one. The writer of the story, Elena, has many adventures, including being raped by the father of her lover, and writes a great book about this which propels her to fame and fortune. The story of the book and its genesis is well done and almost worth the price of admission Her friend, Lila, designs shoes that sell like crazy, is attacked by her husband, and has an affair with Nino, wbo later becomes Elena's lover. ( )
  annbury | Feb 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Every so often you encounter an author so unusual it takes a while to make sense of her voice. The challenge is greater still when this writer’s freshness has nothing to do with fashion, when it’s imbued with the most haunting music of all, the echoes of literary history. Elena Ferrante is this rare bird: so deliberate in building up her story that you almost give up on it, so gifted that by the end she has you in tears.
added by Laura400 | editNew York Times, Joseph Luzzi (Sep 27, 2013)

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elena Ferranteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Damien, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldstein, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Nella primavera del 1966 Lila, in uno stato di grande agitazione, mi affidò una scatola di metallo che conteneva otto quaderni.
In the spring of 1966, Lila, in a state of great agitation, entrusted to me a metal box that contained eight notebooks.
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The second book, following last year's My Brilliant Friend, featuring the two friends Lila and Elena. The two protagonists are now in their twenties. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila. Meanwhile, Elena continues her journey of self-discovery. The two young women share a complex and evolving bond that brings them close at times, and drives them apart at others. Each vacillates between hurtful disregard and profound love for the other. With this complicated and meticulously portrayed friendship at the center of their emotional lives, the two girls mature into women, paying the cruel price that this passage exacts.… (more)

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