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The Story of a New Name (Neapolitan Trilogy) (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Elena Ferrante

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1,035668,160 (4.24)97
Member:bonniev
Title:The Story of a New Name (Neapolitan Trilogy)
Authors:Elena Ferrante
Info:Europa Editions (2013), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:female friendships, rivalries, relationships, marriages, Naples in the 50s/60s, domestic violence, education

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The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (2012)

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English (54)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All (65)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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 |
This second volume of Elena Ferrente's amazing quartet takes up where Volume One left off -- at Lila's wedding, with all signs pointing to disaster. The story continues at a thundering pace, and the pages keep turning, propelled by the desire to find out what happens next, that most basic motive for novel reading. The central characters are now young women, and the time has moved forward to the 1960's. But the best features of the first novel remain intact -- brilliant characterization, a powerful sense of time and place, and a driving plot. For those who loved "My Brilliant Friend", this book will not disappoint; rather, it expands. ( )
  annbury | Feb 19, 2017 |
1. The Story of a New Name (Neapolitan #2) by Elena Ferrante
translation from Italian by Ann Goldstein
published: 2012, translated 2013
format: 456 page paperback (with annoying Europa cover above)
acquired: December
read: Dec 22 - Jan 1
rating: 5

Nothing makes me feel more inadequate writing then trying to review a book I loved. Ferrante swept me away with book one more than any other book I can immediately remember, and certainly more than any of the other books I read last year. And she swept me again, here, with book 2. And I'm fully under her spell now, as I write. I'm in the midst of book 3.

The first two books took some time to grab me (but not the third). This was odd with book 2 in that it starts off so intense. But Ferrante creates atmosphere slowly, it seems. I find myself resistant, and then fully entangled in the many strings of this world, and then I'm off floating away. It has this affect on critics too, who have to fight their intellectual insecurities for a split affect worth pondering. On the book's cover is a quote by [[John Freeman]], "Imagine if Jane Austin got angry and you'll have some idea of how explosive these works are.". Inside book three, there is quote by [[Jhumpa Lahiri]], "I read all the books in a state of immersion; I was totally enthralled. There was nothing else I wanted to do except follow the lives of Lila and Lenú to the end."

Freeman's comment is wonderful, except of course it doesn't make sense. How was Austin not angry? And, anyway, I wouldn't put anger as the first emotion to apply to Ferrante, although it's there. He's trying to make a point the book is more than a story. There is a great deal here, but it's all incorporated within the feeling of the book. It's almost painful to separate them, to force something of concrete importance out, to acknowledge there is substance underneath and the magic.

The books are the story of a cross but close friendship between Lila and Elena as they grow up together in Naples, Italy. This book takes place mainly in the 1960's within a vicious world of a working class neighborhood. Lila and her powerful, if conflicted, mind was pulled from school after elementary school. Elena, or Lenú, with the help of several lucky breaks, will become the only one in her neighborhood to attend a university. The meaning of education is a prominent theme - its advantages and opportunities, and its pretensions, its distance from practical life and complete uselessness in our intimacies. Love is another theme - particularly in its convoluted adolescent ways full of conflict, misunderstanding and outright backstabbing. Sometimes a full and multilayered story can be told in a paragraph.

"{my boyfriend} Antonio's fixation was always the same: Sarratore's son {Nino}. He was afraid that I would talk to him, even that I would see him. Naturally, to prevent him from suffering, I concealed the fact that I ran into Nino entering school, coming out, in the corridors. Nothing particularly happened, at most we exchanged a nod of greeting and went on our way: I could have talked to my boyfriend about it without any problems if he had been a reasonable person. But Antonio was not reasonable and in truth I wasn't either. Although Nino gave me no encouragement, a mere glimpse of him left me distracted during class. His presence a few classrooms away—real, alive, better educated than the professors, and courageous, and disobedient—drained meaning from the teachers' lectures, the pages of books, the plans for marriage, the gas pump on the Stradone."

The poverty in Naples is another theme. The city, particularly this one neighborhood and it's people and their hardships create a memorable atmosphere.

"That day, instead, I saw clearly the mothers of the old neighborhood. They were nervous, they were acquiescent. They were silent, with tight lips and stooping shoulders, or they yelled terrible insults at the children who harassed them. Extremely thin, with hollow eyes and cheeks, or broad behinds, swollen ankles, heavy chests, they lugged shopping bags and small children who clung to their skirts and wanted to be picked up. And, good god, they were ten, at most twenty years older than me. Yet they appeared to have lost the feminine qualities that were so important to us girls and that we accentuated with clothes, with makeup. They had been consumed by the bodies of their husbands, fathers, brothers, whom they ultimately came to resemble, because of their labors or the arrival of old age, of illness."

The main section of this book, which covers many years, takes place during one summer on the island of Ischia. It's worth pondering this choice as it's an island full of history and mythology. Around the time of Homer the island was a Greek trade colony, and archeological finds include Nestor's Cup, the earliest written reference to Homer. And this is the coast where Odysseus sailed down and met the witch, Circe, who turned his crew into animals. Although Circe wasn't likely on Ischia, I think the reference is relevant, as is her sister, the wildest of Greek mythological witches, Medea. And, finally, historically Ischia has been located as a possible landing site of Aeneas, shortly after abandoning Dido, his African queen lover. Unfortunately I haven't read the Aeneid yet, that's next; and yet Dido is most relevant to this story. Lenú even writes her college thesis on her. Relevant to Lila, of course, our supposed witch with penetrating mind, a ferocious intensity, an immediate awareness of any weakness. She is a chaotic force, in line with the mythological traditions.

It's in Ischia, on the beaches, where the seventeen-year-old girls bask their summer away that Ferrante shows most clearly her skills in atmosphere. And it lingers, that atmosphere, well beyond the events, and I still have it in mind now. I loved how she could create similar scenes that felt radically different and each was gripping in its own way. Just a few touches and the reader is whisked away one day, and then the next tension is everywhere - same people, same setting. And yet they're on a beach, and nothing happens. Bolano's [The Third Reich] comes to mind, how the atmosphere, the sand and sea, make everything pleasant, even seem to encourage characters to provoke within the security of the remove from real world.

One last comment. I'm a pretty placid reader, but Ferrante had me gasping out loud a few times in this book, just kind of shocked on the situations she constructs. The wild seas of accumulated tensions that make the simplest conversations bring in your full attention wasn't enough. She then takes this whole world and stirs it upside down.

Obviously I recommend this one. ( )
  dchaikin | Jan 14, 2017 |
Absolutely stunning
By sally tarbox on 13 January 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
This series of novels is absolutely mind-blowing; the lead characters so vividly drawn, that I'm absolutely hooked and am about to start the 3rd in the sequence.
Following best friends - and rivals - studious narrator Elena and the equally brilliant Lila who was pulled out of school to follow a very different life - this volume takes us through Elena's years in upper school and university; her friend has married the wealthy Stefano, but can it be a happy union with the capricious and difficult Lila?
Their lives ebb and flow; they draw close together then go for months without meeting. Elena has times of teenage depression when she almost abandons her studies, but goes on to succeed. And around them are the characters we met in the first volume; the Mafia type Solara brothers, Nino Sarratore, whom Elena adores from afar, and the numerous others in their part of Naples. There are marriages, engagements, affairs, and violent feuds.
I can't recommend Elena Ferrante enough, this was unputdownable ( )
  starbox | Jan 12, 2017 |
Mooi en langdradig. Een hele kluif. ( )
  elsmvst | Dec 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (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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