Friday, 28 November 2014

#ferrantefever


Have you caught Ferrante fever yet? No, me neither. Until last week that is when I was wandering around Waterstones on my everlasting search for well-written contemporary fiction with my birthday book tokens burning a hole in my pocket. I picked up Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend initially attracted by the cover and one of the ladies working in the store highly recommended it and told me a little about #ferrantefever. Elena Ferrante’s three novels, known as the Neapolitan trilogy are becoming something of a literary sensation, partly because they are so readable and partly because the identity of the author is a mystery. I started reading My Brilliant Friend last Friday night and then couldn’t put it down all week.
 
It’s a coming of age story about the friendship between Lila and Elena which begins when they are eight or nine growing up in a small village in Naples during the 1950's. Their friendship is intense and competitive and life among the poor working classes in their village is pretty brutal. There is a lovely account of the day they decide to skip school and leave their village for the first time to walk to the Napoli coast near Vesuvius. They confidently set out with no concept of time or distance and soon are hungry, tired and wary of a violet light in the sky indicating an impending thunderstorm. When they turn back Elena’s mother has gone to the school to meet her holding an umbrella to shelter her from the rain. When she discovers Elena has lied her mother whacks her with the umbrella while Lila’s parents don’t even notice she has gone! Some readers have found the harsh realism in this novel a little excessive but I prefer to read about life as it is rather than ‘cosy' fiction.
 
My Brilliant Friend reminded me a little of Lorrie Moore’s Who will Run the Frog Hospital? a highly readable novel which leaves you wondering how much is fiction and how much is memoir.  I’ve already started the second volume The Story of a New Name and I'm going to save the third volume Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay for my Christmas read.  There is more about Elena Ferrante here and here, but I warn you #ferrantefever is infectious!

11 comments:

JoAnn said...

I also prefer real life to "cozy fiction" and have read several excellent reviews of My Brilliant Friend. It's just $2.99 for kindle on amazon now... I have it all loaded and waiting. If you couldn't put it down, perhaps I should wait until the day after Christmas to begin ;-)

Bellezza Mjs said...

Why am I the only one wNo didn't like My Brilliant Friend? Granted, I didn't get past page 39 or so, but clearly I should retry it. Everyone loves these books of hers, where I've only read and loved the one about the affair. Searching my memory for the title...

Kat said...

I loved My Brilliant Friend, and recently found a copy of the second novel for $3. I'll start on that soon. In winter especially I love "unputdownable" books.

Nadia A said...

I just purchased My Brilliant Friend on my kindle and can't wait to read it. I've heard so many wonderful things about this trilogy, so I'm excited to find that you have enjoyed the first book so much - makes me positive I will enjoy it as well :)

Sunday Taylor said...

I am so glad you reviewed this book since I have been hearing so much about the author lately. And now I can see this is a book I would enjoy. I will be getting a copy ASAP!

Peggy Ann said...

Well, I'll have to read these now!

Anbolyn said...

It seems everyone at my library has Ferrante Fever too as the books are constantly checked out and I haven't been able to get my hands on them.

Vintage Reading said...

Jo Ann, once I read the first book I had to race through all three volumes so that was December's reading sorted!

Bellezza, not everyone's cup of tea I'm sure! Do you mean The Days of Abandonment? I've got that to read next!

Kat, I've read all three volumes now and have to wait until Sept 2015 for volume 4!

Nadia and Sunday, look forward to your reviews!

Peggy, yes you will!

Anbolyn, they are very addictive. The fourth book will be out next year so perhaps better put your reservation in now!

Bellezza Mjs said...

Well, I'm glad it's perfectly acceptable to change one's mind. Here I am, back again, to say that upon trying it again I was quite taken with My Brilliant Friend. Who knew?! :)

Off to link your review to mine...

Kleurrijk said...

Happy New Year from Geri.

Lindsay said...

I keep seeing this author mentioned and I think I have to pick up one of her books soon, after I've read some more from the tbr. Happy New Year.