Rating – 4 stars
Date Finished – January 25, 2017
7/120 in 2017
I was totally reluctant to believe the hype about these books (also, petty as it seems – the covers! ack!), but I was so wrong. This, the first of the Neapolitan novels, is the story of two girls, Elena and Lila, raised in poverty in 1950s Naples. Told in extreme detail, the novel gets at the complicated heart of female friendship through childhood and adolescence with an incredible amount of compassion. To feel such a contradictory assortment of things toward a friend, toward yourself, toward yourself as reflected in that friend – is a female experience close to universal (although, at the time, it feels completely isolating). I found myself cringing in recognition of both girls in My Brilliant Friend, and I can’t wait to see where the next novels take them.
I’ll admit that is is slow to get accustomed to the language – this does not feel like a contemporary novel. The list of families and characters in the front of the book is immensely helpful. By the middle of the book, I couldn’t put it down.