It's not easy to review a book that has had so much love and so much attention already heaped onto it.
How do you add to the praise, or describe how profoundly it affected you, or marvel over the language and depth of character detail, when it's all been said before ?
The Story of a New Name is such a book.
Book two in the Neapolitan series picks up right where My Brilliant Friend leaves off. Chapter one launches us straight back into the world of Elena and Lina.
The cast of characters at the beginning of the book gives the forgetful a chance to recap who's who with some basic plot reminders. But other than this, Ferrante respects her readers enough to leave the 'remember whens' and flashbacks alone.
I enjoyed this book more than the first simply because the girls are now young women and their story is more complex, more disturbing and therefore more compelling. The highs and lows of this friendship are breath-taking. Like a rubber band these two friends keep coming back together. Time and again they find each other - to help, to argue, to gloat, to shock, to share. And to remember - where they come from, why they need to leave and why they keep coming back.
Their uncomfortable forays into a sexual life, their determination to live independent lives away from the poverty of their childhood and the power and influence of the neighbourhood hoods make for fascinating story-telling. Domestic violence, sexual harassment, exploitation or workers, debts, favours, revenge, corruption and thuggery are natural, expected parts of this world. There is no escape. There is no alternative. It's just the way things are.
This is the kind of book I had trouble putting down. I finished it in a few frantic days of reading bliss and picked up book three straight away.
I'd love to know Ferrante's own story and how much of these books are based on real events. Her use of specific dates, places and the sometimes painfully real revelations make this book read like a fictionalised biography.
I'd love to know what you think about this book and read your reviews.
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This book is part of my #XmasinSummer reading challenge. It was also my first read of 2016 - a great way to start my new reading year!
My reviews for My Brilliant Friend
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
The Story of the Lost Child
also by Ferrante, The Days of Abandonment