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My Brilliant Friend (2011)

by Elena Ferrante

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Neapolitan Novels (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,5982461,682 (3.86)392
Beginning in the 1950s Elena and Lila grow up in Naples, Italy, mirroring two different aspects of their nation.
  1. 10
    The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Both are gorgeous novels about young girls' friendships and how they're complicated by class, family, desire.
  2. 10
    Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields (aileverte)
    aileverte: Carol Shields and Elena Ferrante have similar sensibilities, write about the lives of slightly less than average women, offer insights into the writer's craft.
  3. 00
    A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both novels center around a girl living in a poor Italian community. Both share the same translator.
  4. 00
    Die hellen Tage by Zsuzsa Bánk (Florian_Brennstoff)
  5. 00
    The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca (Widsith)
    Widsith: Two books about growing up in Naples in the 1950s, with illuminating differences – Ferrante writing the start of an epic series following girls from the housing estates, De Luca a short, concise look at a boy in the historical centre… both fascinating in divergent ways.… (more)
  6. 00
    Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga (rrmmff2000)
  7. 00
    Das verborgene Wort by Ulla Hahn (Florian_Brennstoff)
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» See also 392 mentions

English (205)  Dutch (7)  Italian (7)  Spanish (7)  French (4)  Swedish (3)  German (3)  Danish (2)  Catalan (2)  Piratical (1)  Norwegian (1)  Hungarian (1)  Arabic (1)  All languages (244)
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
Throughout this novel, I was struck by the situations---both noticed and unnoticed---that imprison the characters and the different ways in which different characters deal with this imprisonment. And then there are the characters to whom the rules seem not to apply, those like Nino who seem able to walk into and out of the neighborhood without consequence. I want to read the rest of the novels and see if these characters really are free or if they're just trapped in a different way.

There's so much hope and violence and the need for indirect action. It's a very realistic story, both compelling and depressing. I've got book two on hold. It's probably good it's not available now or I'd be up too late reading it. ( )
1 vote ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
That ending....wow. I feel perfectly set up!

This is a brilliant (see what I did there) and intricate look at friendship between two girls. This installment covers young girls through adolescence, ending up in mid-teen years if I remember correctly.

There are love interests, family dramas, neighborhood politics, and peer relationships but at the center of it all is Elena and Lila. And for all the relationships I may or may not be rooting for in this book, the only one I really have to care about is theirs-and I do.

Though I didn't grow up in violence or with the backdrop of this neighborhood, navigating girlhood and adolescence is a bit universal. Navigating female friendships is equally complicated often times-at once envious, proud, and always invested, the relationship at the heart of this book is highly relatable for all its positives and negative emotions. I can't wait to read on... ( )
  samnreader | Jun 27, 2020 |
72. My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan #1) (Audio) by Elena Ferrante
translation from Italian by Ann Goldstein
reader: Hillary Huber
published: 2011, translated 2012
format: 12:38 digital audio
acquired: library
read: Nov 16 - Dec 3
rating: 5

This is why I do audiobooks. Because it's so easy to just try them out (if my library has them) and I end up with a much more random selection of books then I would normally select myself, and sometimes I find a real gem that I likely would not have read otherwise.

I adored this, and got into way more than I have gotten into a book in a long time. I'm not sure I can explain why. It took some time (and a wonderful reader) but some ways in I suddenly realized I was completely taken by the story of Elena and her unusual friend growing up in the 1950's in a working class neighborhood in Naples, Italy. It's not a normal book-y deep-ish friendship. The world is rough, and the friendship has calculated aspects to that it never overcomes. A very young Elena finds in her rebellious and unusually sharp classmate, who she calls Lina, some things she wants for herself.

I think in a way it's a book about story telling, and a showing of it. Ferrante even talks about this in some interesting ways through her characters. Somehow, without really making the reader aware of it, the book accumulates tensions or whatever it is that can get your deeper attention. Ferrante has a lot of world to color that attention with, one that seems to get richer as the girls grow up.

Recommended for getting lost in.

2016
https://www.librarything.com/topic/226898#5841941 ( )
  dchaikin | Jun 21, 2020 |
When I was seven my father disowned his family. It was, he explained at the time, because he did not want us to be raised in the culture of violence and ignorance that made his family what it was. Although from the stories I heard from him, I had some picture in my mind of what that meant, it was really only upon reading this series that I have a clear sense of what we escaped. In fact, my father's family is Calabrian from the area where John Paul Getty III was held after being kidnapped. Far more violent than the pussy Neapolitans.

Rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/my-brilliant-friend-by-el... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
When I was seven my father disowned his family. It was, he explained at the time, because he did not want us to be raised in the culture of violence and ignorance that made his family what it was. Although from the stories I heard from him, I had some picture in my mind of what that meant, it was really only upon reading this series that I have a clear sense of what we escaped. In fact, my father's family is Calabrian from the area where John Paul Getty III was held after being kidnapped. Far more violent than the pussy Neapolitans.

Rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/my-brilliant-friend-by-el... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ferrante, Elenaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dias, Maurício SantanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldstein, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gross, NinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laake, Marieke vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sørsdal, KristinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
THE LORD: Therein thou’rt free, according to thy merits;

The like of thee have never moved My hate.

Of all the bold, denying Spirits,

The waggish knave least trouble doth create.

Man’s active nature, flagging, seeks too soon the level;

Unqualified repose he learns to crave;

Whence, willingly, the comrade him I gave,

Who works, excites, and must create, as Devil.--J.W. GOETHE, Faust, translation by Baynard Taylor
Dedication
First words
This morning Rino telephoned.
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The story of Elena and Lila begins in a poor but vibrant neighbourhood  on the outskirts of Naples. The two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else, sometimes to their own detriment, as each discovers more about who she is and suffers or delights in the throes of their intense relationship.
Haiku summary
Volume One, of five
Her autobiography?
Childhood in Naples.
pickupsticks
Mysteries, hardships.
Fierce childhood in Naples slum
Lifelong loyalties.
pickupsticks

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