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My Brilliant Friend: The Neapolitan Novels,…
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My Brilliant Friend: The Neapolitan Novels, Book 1 (original 2011; edition 2014)

by Elena Ferrante (Author), Hillary Huber (Narrator), Inc. Blackstone Audio (Publisher)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,6232082,120 (3.85)342
Member:pharrm
Title:My Brilliant Friend: The Neapolitan Novels, Book 1
Authors:Elena Ferrante (Author)
Other authors:Hillary Huber (Narrator), Inc. Blackstone Audio (Publisher)
Info:Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2014)
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2011)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 00
    Die hellen Tage by Zsuzsa Bánk (Florian_Brennstoff)
  4. 00
    Das verborgene Wort by Ulla Hahn (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)
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» See also 342 mentions

English (172)  Italian (8)  Dutch (7)  Spanish (5)  French (3)  German (3)  Danish (2)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (2)  Piratical (1)  Hungarian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (207)
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
The beauty of this book is that it manages to fascinate the reader without any real plot. There are small stories that continue over ten years of friendship between two girls in the background of a slum in Naples after World War II.
So why is he so fascinating?
It is a novel that focuses on the experience itself, the nature of human beings, with much emotion and humanity.

Such an affair speaks to people, and any person can identify with him, no matter if he grows up in a neighborhood or country of one kind or another.

There is also a question that hangs all the time, who is a genius here? The one who studies and excels at school or who knows how to channel her life in such a way that she will be well, regardless of her studies.

I liked it. ( )
  Ramonremires | Jan 14, 2019 |
Elena Greco gets a telephone call from the son of her childhood friend Lila. He says that she’s disappeared and wants to know if she’s with Elena. When Elena says no, he wants her to help him find her. Elena refuses, knowing that her old friend has always wanted to disappear, and asks him not to call her again. But then she sits down at her computer and begins to reminisce about her old friend, Raffaella Cerullo, whom she has always called Lila starting with when they were poor children in Naples.

It follows their relationship as they grow up and ends at Lila’s wedding to a local grocer at age sixteen. Because of the physical proximity and the isolating poverty of their neighborhood, this Bildungsroman is filled with tension that erupts into occasional violence. The girls friendship, as narrated by Elena, is fraught, going through times of intense intimacy alternating with periods of alienation and distance between them. Both girls are intelligent, even brilliant, but the strong-willed Lila quits school to work at her family’s shoe shop, while Elena continues on to high school.

Set in post-World War II, Italy, Ferrante’s depiction of Elena’s almost obsessive relationship with her friend can at times seem overwritten and unnecessarily tense, until you remember the setting and the and petty but vicious rivalries bred by poverty and defeat. Elena and Lila come from the same class and circumstances that Victor Hugo chronicled in Les Misérables. It’s an environment where tension and insecurity permeate everyday life. Ferrate renders it in vivid detail. ( )
  MaowangVater | Jan 11, 2019 |
(1) I have lately been hearing about these novels a lot though I see this came out in 2012 - a series by a Neapolitan author and clearly, (IMO, at least) a translation. I think maybe it is going to be made into a TV series, hence some hype. A girl, Lena, growing up poor in the 50's in post-War Naples has a frenemy, Lila, who always seems to best her but yet mesmerizes and delights her as well. Due to circumstances, it is Lena who is able to continue her education and may eventually have the opportunity to rise above the slums of Naples. We travel through girlhood and adolescence with Lena, Lila and the gang with their shifting alliances and eventually dalliances. Lena eventually realizes her growing isolation due to her education, but it is still unclear . . . which one is the 'brilliant' friend? The novel seems destined to be the first in a series as it ends rather abruptly and lackluster.

I am not exactly sure what all the fuss is about. As I mentioned, it seems a bit like a clunky translation. I found the novel repetitive and not always engaging; easy to put down at the beginning. Somewhere between 1/2 to 2/3 rds of the way, I finally got into it, but in the end came away lukewarm. What I liked - the girlhood friendship dynamics - Ferrante nailed those. She created an excellent sense of place and atmosphere in the rundown violent neighborhood with the oppressive hand of organized crime in the background. In addition, the wistful realization that Lena came to regarding her neighborhood friends hit home for me as a first generation college graduate.

So overall, I am underwhelmed. I found the second book in a used bookstore and bought it so I will likely continue the series, but not with any great zeal. ( )
  jhowell | Jan 3, 2019 |
I do not have Ferrante Fever and suspect I will never understand the phenomenon. I'm more than fine with that.

Abandoned halfway because the dissection of teenage jealousies is dull and does not a plot make. Beyond that, the language is clunky; I don't read Italian so don't know if the clunkiness originated with the original or the translation. ( )
  LizoksBooks | Dec 15, 2018 |
La amiga estupenda es una novela tan enriquecedora como sumamente compleja. La fórmula que me ha llevado a seguir leyendo a pesar de las dificultades ha sido la necesidad de impregnarme de toda la fea hermosura que me encontraba a cada paso. Resulta difícil definirlo. Su complejidad puede abrumar; pero aún así merece, con creces, la pena.

Es, posiblemente, una de las novelas que más ha marcado mi forma de entender la literatura en los últimos años.

Crítica completa en: https://alibreria.com/2017/03/24/critica-a-la-amiga-estupenda-de-elena-ferrante/ ( )
  MiriamBeizana | Dec 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ferrante, Elenaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goldstein, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gross, NinaTranslatorsecondary 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
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This morning Rino telephoned.
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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

No descriptions found.

(see all 3 descriptions)

Beginning in the 1950s Elena and Lila grow up in Naples, Italy, mirroring two different aspects of their nation.

(summary from another edition)

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