My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Series #1)

My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Series #1)


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My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Series #1) by Elena Ferrante

Premiering November 2018 as an HBO series.

Book one in the New York Times bestselling Neapolitan quartet about two friends growing up in post-war Italy is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted family epic by Italy’s most beloved and acclaimed writer, Elena Ferrante, “one of the great novelists of our time.” (Roxana Robinson, The New York Times )
Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its protagonists, the fiery and unforgettable Lila, and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflictual friendship. Book one in the series follows Lila and Elena from their first fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence. 

Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.

“An intoxicatingly furious portrait of enmeshed friends,” writes Entertainment Weekly. “Spectacular,” says Maureen Corrigan on NPR ’s Fresh Air. “A large, captivating, amiably peopled bildungsroman,” writes James Wood in The New Yorker.

Ferrante is one of the world’s great storytellers. With My Brilliant Friend she has given her readers an abundant, generous, and masterfully plotted page-turner that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight readers for many generations to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609450786
Publisher: Europa Editions, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/25/2012
Series: Neapolitan Novels Series , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 13,607
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Elena Ferrante  is the author of  The Days of Abandonment  (Europa, 2005),  Troubling Love  (Europa, 2006),  The Lost Daughter  (Europa, 2008) and the Neapolitan Quartet (Europa 2012-2015). She is also the author of a children’s picture book illustrated by Mara Cerri,  The Beach at Night.

Ann Goldstein
 is an editor at  The New Yorker. Her translations for Europa Editions include novels by Amara Lakhous, Alessandro Piperno, and Elena Ferrante's bestselling  My Brilliant Friend. She lives in New York.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for Elena Ferrante and The Neapolitan Novels

“Everyone should read anything with Ferrante’s name on it.” —The Boston Globe
“Ferrante’s novels are intensely, violently personal, and because of this they seem to dangle bristling key chains of confession before the unsuspecting reader.” —James Wood, The New Yorker
“One of the more nuanced portraits of feminine friendship in recent memory.” —Megan O’Grady, Vogue
“Amazing! My Brilliant Friend took my breath away. If I were president of the world I would make everyone read this book. It is so honest and right and opens up heart to so much. Reading Ferrante reminded me of that child-like excitement when you can’t look up from the page, when your eyes seem to be popping from your head, when you think: I didn’t know books could do this!” —Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge
“Elena Ferrante will blow you away.” —Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
“Ferrante’s emotional and carnal candor are so potent." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“I like the Italian writer, Elena Ferrante, a lot. I've been reading all her work and all about her.” — John Waters, actor and director
“"Elena Ferrante tackles girlhood and friendship with amazing force.”— Gwenyth Paltrow
“Elena Ferrante may be the best contemporary novelist you’ve never heard of”— The Economist
“[Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels] don’t merely offer a teeming vision of working-class Naples, with its cobblers and professors, communists and mobbed-up businessmen, womanizing poets and downtrodden wives; they present one of modern fiction’s richest portraits of a friendship.” —John Powers, Fresh Air, NPR
“Ferrante’s freshness has nothing to do with fashion…it is imbued with the most haunting music of all, the echoes of literary history.” The New York Times Book Review
“Elena Ferrante’s THE STORY OF A NEW NAME, book two in her Naples series. Two words. Read it.” —Ann Hood, author of The Obituary Writer
“Ferrante writes with a ferocious, intimate urgency.” —Susanna Sonnenberg, author of Her Last Death: A Memoir
The Days of Abandonment is a powerful, heartrending novel.” —Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Lowlands
“I am such a fan of Ferrante’s work, and have been for quite a while.” —Jennifer Gilmore, author of The Mothers
“No one has a voice quite like Ferrante's. Her gritty, ruthlessly frank novels roar off the page with a barbed fury, like an attack that is also a defense…Imagine if Jane Austen got angry and you'll have some idea of how explosive these works are.” —John Freeman, The Australian
“The women’s fraught relationship and shifting fortunes are the life forces of the poignant book” — Publisher’s Weekly
"An engrossing, wildly original contemporary epic about the demonic power of human (and particularly female) creativity checked by the forces of history and society." The Los Angeles Review of Books

Customer Reviews

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My Brilliant Friend 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
KarmaNY More than 1 year ago
This is the author's fourth book, and it's about her childhood and coming of age growing up in Naples with her beloved friend, Lila, and the unspoken competition between them. I understand now why the author gave a synopsis of all the characters at the beginning of the book because there are so many, it can get confusing. But, as usual, Ms. Ferrante weaves a tale that is endearing, rich, and compelling. This is a women's book - I don't think a man could relate - and Elena Ferrante describes her experiences, observations and revelations with style and insight. She makes you feel as drawn to Lila as she and everyone else seems to be. She make you feel Lenu's insecurities. I wished the ending gave a little more detail about Lenu's future; but the fate of Lila tied in beautifully with the beginning of the book. I love Ferrante's unique writing style and am sad there are no other books left of hers to read (I read them all!).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written. A beautiful, complicated story. Its a shame the starred rating is misleading, for it seems several reviewers were confused about the system.
dakotadj More than 1 year ago
This book had me thinking all through it. It still has me thinking and wanting to know more. From what I read it  will be a trilogy. I was happy to discover that. These two girls are so entwined, yet going different directions. I want to know more about their futures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gives you great insights of what life was like for a girl in southern Italy after the war. Very well written .
books4gail More than 1 year ago
Oh, look at that list of characters at the beginning. Reminds me of Wolf Hall. And like Wolf Hall, this book is different: unusual style, lots of complicated interior lives of the characters and basics lives of a poor Neopolitan neighborhood in the 40s and 50s. Initially, I was unsure I would like it but reached a point where I was captivated by Lila, Lenu and their millieu. I am on to the next one. Oh, and full disclosure, my book group was "meh" about this one, though we had a spirited discussion about it! Methinks they liked it better once we discussed it.
BrynBB More than 1 year ago
Started reading this book and about 1/4 of the way through I thought, "Why am I still reading? This book is boring." So, sorry to the original author and sorry to the translator, but this book just wan't my cup of tea.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story gives a vivid description of two girls growing up in post WWII Italy. The attitudes towards children and wives are archaic, and there are many instances of injuries inflicted on them. Following Lila and Elena through their lives is compelling, and will keep you reading. This is the first of three books (with a fourth coming later in 2015) and I intend to read them all. And my wish is that someone will make this story into a film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written,complicated and quite interesting.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Complex and engaging.
BookTraveller More than 1 year ago
The Law of Dissolving Margins: when the outlines of people and things suddenly dissolve or disappear. Such margins, shifting and complex, become increasingly dissolved between young Lenuccia and Lila in Elena Ferrante’s intricate 2012 novel, My Brilliant Friend. Female friendships receive the spotlight in Ferrante’s first novel, which follows the coming-of-age of two Italian girls living in the 1950s heart of Naples, Italy. Soul mates needn’t be confined exclusively to sweeping romantic tales (à la Twilight or Romeo and Juliet), or even to heteronormative couples. Lenuccia (Lenú) and Lila present readers with a multifaceted, enduring attachment throughout their longtime friendship—one that questions and redefines soul mates in the feminine sphere. The shades of complexity begin, almost instantaneously, with a single act that solidified their friendship: “At the fourth flight Lila did something unexpected. She stopped to wait for me, and when I reached her she gave me her hand. This gesture changed everything between us forever” (29). Initial uncertainty defines their bond. Lila possesses a hardness and intensity that compels Lenuccia, though it strikes a sense of fear in the latter. A single narrative voice threads the entire book, as their intellect and competition juxtapose their deep, enduring care for one another. Lenú observes the intense sharpness of Lila’s mind with a wide-eyed fascination; the young girls’ relationship grows from equal parts admiration and apprehension. The young Neapolitan girls engage gregariously with the world through their education—a luxury for girls in poor, working-class Naples. Yet the skill of the mind, and a complex relationship with words, allows the girls to both connect and compete. Their individual mental acumen provides both girls with a sharp, piercing view of language, culture, and classical education, but also engenders an intense, unspoken competition between them. As their education progresses, romances with boys begin to enter the narrative. Lenú possesses early adolescent beauty, while Lila remains childlike for much of her early teens. Lenú’s body changes, and possesses a new ability to attract and repel men. Such awareness mirrors the self-consciousness of pubescence, especially as she encounters weight-changes, fertility, acne, and an unfortunate pair of glasses. The girls volley back and forth between their respective attachments to boys, often with little emotional depth or commitment. Men remain somewhat peripheral throughout the story, though many men enter and exit Lenú’s notice. Italian masculinity remains elusive and shifty. Italian men, as written by Ferrante, remain at time violent, artistic, passionate, and possessive. Yet the misgivings of these male relationships pale to the enduring, if tempestuous, relationship between the two girls. Against the backdrop of post-communist Italy, a masterpiece unfolds. The intensity and dimension of female friendships defines the beginning of Ferrante’s saga, and brings the reader firmly into the angst and love of intense friendship. As the girls grow up, the bond intensifies with love, budding sexuality, and the powerful, important connections between childhood friends and young women. A evocative, worth-while read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don’t know why I feel this compulsion to finish what I start. I should not waste my time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many characters. Slow. Horrible sudden ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel like the language was a little bit unnessecary. Sure, it may be what had really happened but younger ages would be able to learn from this book if it wern't for the chapter with five uses of the "f-word" on one page. Other than that, great read and worth the money.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante Book One of the Neapolitan Novels - translated by Ann Goldstein This is the first of four books that make up The Neapolitan Novels written under the pseudonym of "Elena Ferrante." Despite being recognized on an international scale, she has kept her identity secret since the publication of her first novel in 1992. The book is the story of two peasant girls: Elena Greco and Raffaella Cerullo (Lila). It opens at the present time: a call from Lila's brother, Rino, tells Elena that Lila has disappeared. Elena knows that Lila has disappeared without leaving a trace and decides to tell her story. Narrated from the first person point of view (Elena's) the story starts with childhood memories and ends with Lila's wedding to Stefano Carracci at age 16. Through their infant point of view, we live in 1950's Naples and experience what is to grow poor in Italy. Through their innocence, we are told of class differences, World War two, fascism, religion, and, communism. The struggle is different for the two friends: while Lila can learn the school lessons without any effort - she has taught herself everything she knows, Elena has to work very hard to get an education. Elena is accepted to high school and goes the academic way, but Lila manages to get engaged to Stefano, thus leaving poverty. However, there will be a price to pay. This is a coming of age tale - and the story of a very strong friendship between these two women. I loved the book! It reads very easily and the narrative is almost poetic. "Dissolving margins" is the term Lila coins as to how she sees the world - and perhaps is the only way you can live Naples' history through these characters. My only complaint is that I would have loved to experience Lila's point of view. I felt robbed that I only got Elena's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nuala More than 1 year ago
A continuous tale of teenage angst does not make for fun reading. Found it boring and kept waiting for a story to begin. Probably only resonates with those who grew up in Italy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A detailed, intense description of the fragility of two young girls desperately seeking their identity in a provincial, insecure small town. The author's clever use of symbols, such as new, fancy shoes that perhaps don't fit too well and that cost far too much, shoehorn a story that deftly describes the high cost of liberation and autonomy in a closed society. Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very boring book. Read till the 2nd part and just could not get into the complicated story. Seemed to be a real downer and depressing. Just not my cup of tea.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never read anything like this before. I am surprised at how little attention this book is getting. I could not put it down! Highly recommend!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a book club choice -- all books were out at the Peninsula Library System. So decided to get My Brilliant Friend on the Nook. Really enjoyed it very much. Can't wait to read more of the series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As per usual from this gifted writer