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Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014)

by Elena Ferrante

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Neapolitan Novels (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,894914,861 (4.19)108
Since the publication of My Brilliant Friend, the first of the Neapolitan novels, Elena Ferrante's fame as one of our most compelling, insightful, and stylish contemporary authors has grown enormously. She has gained admirers among authors--Jhumpa Lahiri, Elizabeth Strout, Claire Messud, to name a few--and critics--James Wood, John Freeman, Eugenia Williamson, for example. But her most resounding success has undoubtedly been with readers, who have discovered in Ferrante a writer who speaks with great power and beauty of the mysteries of belonging, human relationships, love, family, and friendship. In this third Neapolitan novel, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; she has left her husband and the comforts of her marriage brought and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which has opened the doors to a world of learned interlocutors and richly furnished salons. Both women are pushing against the walls of a prison that would have seen them living a life of mystery, ignorance and submission. They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the nineteen-seventies. Yet they are still very much bound to see each other by a strong, unbreakable bond.… (more)
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English (70)  Italian (6)  German (5)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
Third book in the Neapolitan Quartet, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay continues the story narrated by the novel's Elena about her life among the educated class and the ties she still has to the impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhood she grew up in and where she still has family and old friends, including her brilliant but often troubled best friend Lila. Translated from the Italian, these books merge the deeply personal with political, socio-economic, and philosophical ideas. ( )
  baystateRA | Aug 13, 2023 |
This novel is a perfect example of the old saying; You can't judge a book by it's cover. Judging by it's beautiful cover, I just didn't expect this third installment of Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels to end the way it did. Nevertheless, thoroughly enjoyed reading it and can't wait to read the 4th and final installment. ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
Politics. If I had to think of a single word to sum up this volume, it would be Politics. So much of the action in this story is political, whether it is the Fascists vs. the Communists in late 1960s Italy (a piece of history I know nothing about but keep meaning to look up) or family dynamics, the battle within our own minds, or the enduring roller coaster ride that is the relationship between Elena and Lila. Elena has managed to escape The Neighbourhood and study in Pisa, then marries and moves to Florence. Lila seems to be mired in misfortune and ill-health, until she inexplicably surrenders her morals and gets in bed with the enemy. All the while, the two women come together and fall apart, as waves in competing oceans. This quote sums it up well: "With her, there was no way to feel that things were settled; every fixed point of our relationship sooner or later turned out to be provisional; something shifted in her head that unbalanced her and unbalanced me." (page 226) At some point Elena says that somehow, the two of them cannot be happy and successful at the same time. This narrative resonates so strongly for me at this point in my life, since I was constantly reminded of a friendship in my own life, with a person who very often seems unknowable to me, yet who I consider one of my few intimates. Perhaps this is always the way of friendships between women. My narrow experience is probably not a good indicator of this phenomenon. In any case, as the pages dwindled, I realized the story is far from over, and indeed, it turns out this is a "trilogy in four parts," with one part left to go. I find these novels engrossing and challenging -- as I've said in other reviews, the prose is dense, the description is detailed and yet vivid and memorable. I have had no trouble moving from volume to volume despite long breaks (and other novels consumed) in between, because the narration is so strong and readable. I look forward to the next, final volume. ( )
  karenchase | Jun 14, 2023 |
Listened to the first half, read the second half - much faster. Boy, this series is just unstoppable. I’m totally gripped, and will start reading #4 tomorrow! ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
In the third book of the Neapolitan quartet, we follow main characters Elena and Lila into their thirties, as they develop livelihoods and rear children. Set in the 1960s-1970s Italy, this book contains more about the political climate of the era, including violent clashes between the communists and fascists. Elena and her relationships are the primary focus of this storyline with intermittent appearances by Lila.

It is a family saga filled with unpleasant people, dysfunctional relationships, and questionable decisions that complicate their lives. There are many scenes from daily life – conversations around the dinner table, phone conversations, and lots of chit-chat. Many say this is a story of female friendship, but it is not affectionate or supportive, and, in fact, seems pretty toxic. The romantic relationships are almost all toxic as well. I came away with a lukewarm feeling, but I am out of step with the numerous readers who love this series. I liked it enough to read the final installment.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
...
Writing about the Brilliant Friend books has been one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever done. When I began, I thought I felt this way because I loved them so much and didn’t know where to start with all my praising. Then I had to fight a deep desire not to mention the things I most liked in the novels so I could keep them to myself. Now my view of the matter is that somehow Ferrante so thoroughly succeeds in her aim of seizing at “the evasive thing” that she has stirred up something from the depths of her mind that touches and spreads through mine.

It has to do, presumably, with femininity, with having been a girl who loved reading and was supposed to know that you have to let the boys keep winning at math. It has to do too with the less gendered but even more bodily experience of living in and through a mind. And it has to do, profoundly, with living in a mind and being touched by another one: delighted, exasperated, confused, envious, sorrowful, appalled. As the years go by, the women in these novels allow the holes in their friendship to spread, yet Elena feels the presence of Lila constantly, an almost physical pressure, a disturbance in the air. Telling her own story, she thinks, is easy enough: “the important facts slide along the thread of the years like suitcases on a conveyor belt at an airport.” But involving Lila, “the belt slows down, accelerates, swerves abruptly . . . The suitcases fall off, fly open, their contents scatter here and there. Her things end up among mine.”

“May I point out something?” Lila says to Elena in one of the women’s scarce, increasingly ill-tempered phone conversations in the Seventies. “You always use true and truthfully, when you speak and when you write. Or you say: unexpectedly. But when do people ever speak truthfully and when do things ever happen unexpectedly? You know better than I that it’s all a fraud and that one thing follows another and then another.”

This, in a nutshell, is Lila’s problem, perhaps her tragedy. She thinks so fast and with such ferocious rigor; she sees connections and discerns so many fine distinctions; she’s impossible and overwhelming — “too much for anyone” and, most of all, for herself. But Elena keeps thinking about her, putting her on the page. Great novels are intelligent far beyond the powers of any character or writer or individual reader, as are great friendships, in their way. These wonderful books sit at the heart of that mystery, with the warmth and power of both.
added by aileverte | editHarper's, Jenny Turner (pay site) (Oct 1, 2014)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elena Ferranteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Damien, ElsaTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dias, Maurício SantanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Filipetto, CeliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldstein, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hedenberg, JohannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hernández, MartaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huber, HillaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krieger, KarinÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laake, Marieke vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I saw Lila for the last time five years ago, in the winter of 2005.
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Since the publication of My Brilliant Friend, the first of the Neapolitan novels, Elena Ferrante's fame as one of our most compelling, insightful, and stylish contemporary authors has grown enormously. She has gained admirers among authors--Jhumpa Lahiri, Elizabeth Strout, Claire Messud, to name a few--and critics--James Wood, John Freeman, Eugenia Williamson, for example. But her most resounding success has undoubtedly been with readers, who have discovered in Ferrante a writer who speaks with great power and beauty of the mysteries of belonging, human relationships, love, family, and friendship. In this third Neapolitan novel, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; she has left her husband and the comforts of her marriage brought and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which has opened the doors to a world of learned interlocutors and richly furnished salons. Both women are pushing against the walls of a prison that would have seen them living a life of mystery, ignorance and submission. They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the nineteen-seventies. Yet they are still very much bound to see each other by a strong, unbreakable bond.

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