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My Brilliant Friend is a ravishing, wonderfully written novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime.
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 friendship.
There is a piercing honesty about Ferrante's prose that makes My Brilliant Friend a compulsively readable portrait of two young women, and also the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country.
Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. She is the author of seven novels: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter, and the quartet of Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. Fragments, a selection of interviews, letters and occasional writings by Ferrante, will be published in early 2016. She is one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors.
'The best thing I've read this year, far and away...She puts most other writing at the moment in the shade.' Richard Flanagan
'Ferrante tackles girlhood and friendship with amazing force.' Gwyneth Paltrow
'Read My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante—the Jane Austen of Italy.' Jeffrey Archer
'Gutsy and compulsively readable...One of the more nuanced portraits of feminine friendship in recent memory...Ferrante wisely balances her memoir-like emotional authenticity with a wry sociological understanding of a society on the verge of dramatic change.' Vogue (US)
'Her novels are intensely, violently personal, and because of this they seem to dangle bristling key chains of confession before the unsuspecting reader...[A] beautiful and delicate tale of confluence and reversal.' James Wood, New Yorker
'Cinematic in the density of its detail.' Times Literary Supplement
'Elena Ferrante will blow you away.' Alice Sebold
'Ferrante's fictions are fierce, unsentimental glimpses at the way a woman is constantly under threat, her identity submerged in marriage, eclipsed by motherhood, mythologised by desire. Imagine if Jane Austen got angry and you'll have some idea of how explosive these works are.' Weekend Australian
'My Brilliant Friend is an engaging read, well translated from Italian, giving a vivid account of life in a poor suburb of Naples in the late 1950s...There is a lot more to find out about this interesting pair.' Otago Daily Times
'The first two Neapolitan novels [My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name]...move far from contrivance, logic or respectability to ask uncomfortable questions about how we live, how we love, how we singe an existence in a deeply flawed world that expects pretty acquiescence from its women. In all their beauty, their ugliness, their devotion and deceit, these girls enchant and repulse, like life, like our very selves.' Sydney Morning Herald
'If you haven't read Elena Ferrante, it's like not having read Flaubert in 1856...Incontrovertibly brilliant.' Anne Meadows, editor of Granta
'The Neapolitan novels are smart, thoughtful, serious literature. At the same time, they are violent, suspenseful soap operas populated with a vivid cast of scheming characters...Ferrante's novels are deeply personal and intimate, getting to the very heart of what it means to be a woman, a friend, a daughter, a mother.' Debrief Daily