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Elena e Lila, le due amiche la cui storia i lettori hanno imparato a conoscere attraverso L’amica geniale e Storia del nuovo cognome, sono diventate donne. Lo sono diventate molto presto: Lila si è sposata a sedici anni, ha un figlio piccolo, ha lasciato il marito e l’agiatezza, lavora come operaia in condizioni durissime; Elena è andata via dal rione, ha studiato alla Nor Elena e Lila, le due amiche la cui storia i lettori hanno imparato a conoscere attraverso L’amica geniale e Storia del nuovo cognome, sono diventate donne. Lo sono diventate molto presto: Lila si è sposata a sedici anni, ha un figlio piccolo, ha lasciato il marito e l’agiatezza, lavora come operaia in condizioni durissime; Elena è andata via dal rione, ha studiato alla Normale di Pisa e ha pubblicato un romanzo di successo che le ha aperto le porte di un mondo benestante e colto. Ambedue hanno provato a forzare le barriere che le volevano chiuse in un destino di miseria, ignoranza e sottomissione. Ora navigano, con i ritmi travolgenti a cui Elena Ferrante ci ha abituati, nel grande mare aperto degli anni Settanta, uno scenario di speranze e incertezze, di tensioni e sfide fino ad allora impensabili, sempre unite da un legame fortissimo, ambivalente, a volte sotterraneo a volte riemergente in esplosioni violente o in incontri che aprono prospettive inattese.


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Elena e Lila, le due amiche la cui storia i lettori hanno imparato a conoscere attraverso L’amica geniale e Storia del nuovo cognome, sono diventate donne. Lo sono diventate molto presto: Lila si è sposata a sedici anni, ha un figlio piccolo, ha lasciato il marito e l’agiatezza, lavora come operaia in condizioni durissime; Elena è andata via dal rione, ha studiato alla Nor Elena e Lila, le due amiche la cui storia i lettori hanno imparato a conoscere attraverso L’amica geniale e Storia del nuovo cognome, sono diventate donne. Lo sono diventate molto presto: Lila si è sposata a sedici anni, ha un figlio piccolo, ha lasciato il marito e l’agiatezza, lavora come operaia in condizioni durissime; Elena è andata via dal rione, ha studiato alla Normale di Pisa e ha pubblicato un romanzo di successo che le ha aperto le porte di un mondo benestante e colto. Ambedue hanno provato a forzare le barriere che le volevano chiuse in un destino di miseria, ignoranza e sottomissione. Ora navigano, con i ritmi travolgenti a cui Elena Ferrante ci ha abituati, nel grande mare aperto degli anni Settanta, uno scenario di speranze e incertezze, di tensioni e sfide fino ad allora impensabili, sempre unite da un legame fortissimo, ambivalente, a volte sotterraneo a volte riemergente in esplosioni violente o in incontri che aprono prospettive inattese.

30 review for Storia di chi fugge e di chi resta

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This book left me speechless. I've spent the last few weeks reading Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, and I have grown increasingly attached to her two main characters, Elena and Lila. These women are so well-drawn and seem so real that I was anxious about what will happen to them. When I finished this book last night — on the edge of my seat, by the way, because there was yet another dramatic ending — I was so unsteady that I had to rest a moment, pondering the fates of the women. I refuse to spoil a This book left me speechless. I've spent the last few weeks reading Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, and I have grown increasingly attached to her two main characters, Elena and Lila. These women are so well-drawn and seem so real that I was anxious about what will happen to them. When I finished this book last night — on the edge of my seat, by the way, because there was yet another dramatic ending — I was so unsteady that I had to rest a moment, pondering the fates of the women. I refuse to spoil anything for readers who have not yet read these wonderful novels, but I will say that in Book Three, the friendship of Elena and Lila is repeatedly tested. The story covers them from their 20s and into their 30s, and both women experienced significant changes in their careers and families, especially as the political climate of Italy grew more tense and violent. What I especially liked about this third novel was Elena's foray into feminism and politics as she searched for ways to be involved and for subjects to write about. Through her experiences, we get a crash course in the riots and protests that occurred in the 1960s and '70s as communists fought fascists, and everywhere our heroines turned, they risked violence, either on the street or at home. When I started the first book earlier this summer, I did not expect to like this series. I thought there were too many characters and nicknames to remember, and I didn't see much point in following around two girls in a poor neighborhood in Naples. But as the girls grew up, I began to appreciate their significance. Now that I have read the first three books, I would compare this series to a tree. In Book One, Ferrante had to plant the seeds of the story — those seeds were the stories and events that Elena and Lila faced as children, and each one has long-lasting consequences. In Books Two and Three, the stories are much deeper and more powerful, because the tree has taken root and is stronger. For example, who would have thought that when Lila designed a men's shoe in book one, that it would still be talked about in book three? Or that when she held a knife to a man's throat to protect herself and Elena, that it would turn out to be a pivotal point in the story? Or the day that Elena and Lila decided to skip school and walk as far away as they can, that it would hold significance years later? "I can't wait to leave [the neighborhood]," I exclaimed. "You're strong," [Lila] answered, to my astonishment. "I have never been. The better and truer you feel, the farther away you go. If I merely pass through the tunnel of the stradone, I'm scared. Remember when we tried to get to the sea but it started raining? Which of us wanted to keep going and which of us made an about-face, you or me?" [Elena wanted to keep going, by the way] I think what Ferrante has done here is remarkable for several reasons. First, she has created an incredible story of female friendship, filled with every human emotion, including jealousy, rage, fear, and respect. As I read these books, I wondered why there aren't more novels about female friendship; it seems most modern novels are either about family dynamics or romantic love. (Or some kind of dystopia/apocalypse, but you get my drift.) I also think these novels are extraordinary for the choices the women make as a way to try and escape poverty: Elena hopes that schooling and moving away will better her life, but Lila is forced to leave school and instead tries marriage, which didn't work out as well as planned. And Book Three is filled with even more choices the women are forced to make, and a few of their decisions are shocking. I sometimes imagined what my life and Lila's would have been if we had both taken the test for admission to middle school and then high school, if together we had studied to get our degree, elbow to elbow, allied, a perfect couple, the sum of intellectual energies, of the pleasures of understanding and the imagination. We would have written together, we would have been authors together, we would have drawn power from each other, we would have fought shoulder to shoulder because what was ours was inimitably ours. The solitude of women's minds is regrettable, I said to myself, it's a waste to be separated from each other, without procedures, without tradition. This novel is stunning, and I highly recommend this series. Now I have to be patient and wait for Book Four to be published in the U.S. Favorite Quotes "How can I explain ... that from the age of six I've been a slave to letters and numbers, that my mood depends on the success of their combinations, that the joy of having done well is rare, unstable, that it lasts an hour, an afternoon, a night?" "He didn't want her the way he generally wanted women, to feel them under him, to turn them over, turn them again, open them up, break them, step on them, and crush them. He didn't want her in order to have sex and then forget her. He wanted the subtlety of her mind with all its ideas. He wanted her imagination. And he wanted her without ruining her, to make her last." "I couldn't control my restlessness, an eagerness for violation was growing in me, I wanted to break the rules, as the entire world seemed to be breaking the rules. I wanted, even, just once, to break out of marriage, or, why not, everything in my life, what I had learned, what I had written, what I was trying to write, the child I had brought into the world. Ah yes, marriage was a prison." "I expect the best from you, I'm too certain that you can do better, I want you to do better, it's what I want most, because who am I if you aren't great, who am I?" "I concluded that first of all I had to understand better what I was. Investigate my nature as a woman. I had been excessive, I had striven to give myself male capacities. I thought I had to know everything, be concerned with everything. What did I care about politics, about struggles. I wanted to make a good impression on men, be at their level ... I had been conditioned by my education, which had shaped my mind, my voice. To what secret pacts with myself had I consented, just to excel. And now, after the hard work of learning, what must I unlearn." "In the fairy tales one does as one wants, and in reality one does what one can."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Violet wells

    I finished this today, the day Elena Ferrante’s identity has reportedly been revealed. I confess I feel a bit guilty now because while reading this there were several times I found myself wishing I knew how much was fiction and how much autobiography. I wondered this because it struck me that when Lila disappears from the pages so too does the electric charge Ferrante’s writing has. Ferrante writes well about Elena’s initiation into university life, the Milan literati, Italian political unrest, I finished this today, the day Elena Ferrante’s identity has reportedly been revealed. I confess I feel a bit guilty now because while reading this there were several times I found myself wishing I knew how much was fiction and how much autobiography. I wondered this because it struck me that when Lila disappears from the pages so too does the electric charge Ferrante’s writing has. Ferrante writes well about Elena’s initiation into university life, the Milan literati, Italian political unrest, about marriage, child rearing, and infidelity but not markedly better than lots of other writers. The best parts of this book were when Lila returned. For me, no Lila, no party. And Lila is absent for a lot of this book. So I couldn’t help wondering if Lila, Ferrante’s muse, is a real person. Did she luck out as an author in having such a compelling brilliant friend or is she an inspired invention of Ferrante’s? It doesn’t really matter but I was curious. If this disreputable journalist/culture - yet another indictment of how misplaced and trivial investigative journalism has become. How about spending your time and energy on uncovering secrets of corruption and conspiracy in governments and multi-national corporations, guys, instead of harassing a writer? - is right then it turns out these Neapolitan novels are even more a triumph of imagination than perhaps they would have been perceived were they a literary transcription of Ferrante’s personal experience. Because we discover Ferrante, though born in Naples, moved to Rome when three and had a German mother who fled to Italy to escape the Holocaust. It always struck me that the descriptions of Naples were quite generic – could have been Bari or Palermo or Reggio Calabria or even Rome minus an occasional ocean. The same is true in this book of Pisa and Florence where Elena finds herself. I never really felt she was in Pisa or Florence. She could have been in any Italian university town. The settings were perhaps Ferrante's way of concealing her tracks. Ferrante was always going to have a problem keeping her anonymity because of the apparent intense realism of her work - you can't help wondering how much is true while reading her. The irony for me is that these books were never about Naples, or at least specific to Naples. In fact it doesn’t surprise me at all that she never lived in Naples for long. And yet it’s the depiction of Naples that has caused a lot of the fuss. They are about the difficulties women face to achieve autonomy and identity in any milieu where men still often have the final word – as such they could be set in Bagdad or Birmingham, Rome or Nairobi. It’s interesting that in Italy many have claimed her books were written by a man and even now there’s talk they were written by this translator’s husband. Would even that matter? It says a lot about Italy which, though I’d argue is not generally misogynistic, does tend to be chauvinistic – the disparagement of women more an intellectual insecurity than an emotional distaste). Were her books written by a man it’d certainly be a phenomenal achievement because Ferrante, whoever she is, will probably go down in history as one of the very best exponents of unravelling the inner lives of women. So, yep this was really good too, though not quite as good as Book Two. Interestingly and for the first time Elena isn't always likeable in this book - often you feel because the wise and inspirational influence of Lina is not at hand. And it ends on a real cliffhanger and I’m annoyed I didn’t already buy the forth book cos now I have to wait for it to arrive. I only hope Ferrante doesn’t stop writing now that her privacy has been so crudely invaded.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I NEVER WANT TO READ ABOUT NINO AGAIN ------- Okay, I've calmed down enough to write a review (more like a "review") so that I can move on to the next book. This installment was the most frustrating one to read thus far. It feels disjointed and the entire middle of the book is sloooooow. It's hard to tell if this is an artistic choice - does the reader have to experience the same sort of ennui that Elena does as a new mother? if so, are hundreds of pages appropriate? - or if the story simply drags I NEVER WANT TO READ ABOUT NINO AGAIN ------- Okay, I've calmed down enough to write a review (more like a "review") so that I can move on to the next book. This installment was the most frustrating one to read thus far. It feels disjointed and the entire middle of the book is sloooooow. It's hard to tell if this is an artistic choice - does the reader have to experience the same sort of ennui that Elena does as a new mother? if so, are hundreds of pages appropriate? - or if the story simply drags out this period of Elena's life for too long. My main problem is that this book is not about Lila and Elena. This book is about Nino Sarratore. Nominally, this book is about the two women that we've been following for three books now. Lila goes to work in terrible conditions in a sausage factory; Elena marries a Nice Boy from a slightly higher social class than her own and has a child; the two intersect, memorably, only a few times over the course of their twenties and thirties. But Nino keeps dipping in and out of their lives, whether he's showing up at Elena's book reading, appearing offscreen as the baby daddy of a fellow activist, or becoming friends with Elena's husband through work. Nino's appearances propel the action forward and give Elena new purposes and meaning. By the end, (view spoiler)[Nino is propelling the whole plot - because against all odds, he's decided to break up his marriage to be with Elena and they are madly in love with each other. Cue me rolling my eyes repeatedly through this entire section of the book (hide spoiler)] . There are a few elements that I really loved. As Lila and Elena enter the real world outside of the neighborhood, Elena discovers feminism and Lila becomes a working-class hero, exposing the dangers of the factory she works in. There are shifting relationships between Elena and her family, especially when (view spoiler)[her youngest sister becomes involved with one of the Solara brothers (hide spoiler)] . Politics and the changing cultural landscape of Italy pervade the background, and sometimes the foreground: And at least Enzo in front of him, in the factory, women worn out by the work, by humiliations, by domestic obligations no less than Lila was. Yet now they were both angry because of the conditions she worked in; they couldn’t tolerate it. You had to hide everything from men. They preferred not to know, they preferred to pretend that what happened at the hands of the boss miraculously didn’t happen to the women important to them and that—this was the idea they had grown up with—they had to protect her even at the risk of being killed. In the face of that silence Lila got even angrier. “Fuck off,” she said, “you and the working class.” Ferrante's blinding talent is writing truthfully (even as Lila rails against the very idea of doing things "truthfully"), and there are certain sentences and turns of phrase in this book that made me start fervently taking notes, highlighting, thinking about them again and again, turning them over in my head. Ideas in Ferrante's hands feel fresh and revolutionary and new, and that's why I keep coming back to these books. (I loved her Paris Review interview.) Once her characters are in a situation and have to live with the consequences, she's able to turn her insightful prose to and narrow her focus on that particular problem. It's getting from Situation A to Situation B that seems to be more difficult for her in this book. So much of this book is based on the soap opera of Nino and who he's currently interested in sleeping with. The relationships never make sense to me. (view spoiler)[I mean, why does Elena marry Pietro? (hide spoiler)] The seesaw between Lila and Elena feels cheap, a too-obvious manifestation of the give and take friendship between them (as Lila says, "We made a pact when we were children: I'm the wicked one"). The ending is explosive only because something actually happens after pages and pages of nothing. I really hope that the next book can engage with the heavy questions that Ferrante obviously wants to without getting bogged back down in a soap opera.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    4.5 stars Review to come. But obviously it was great. --- Ok, now that I've had time to come up with some thoughts--though, no promises that they will be coherent--I can attempt to write a review of this one. Like the 2 preceding novels in the Neapolitan novels series by the fabulous Elena Ferrante, this one is quite hard to rate on its own. The stories are so dependent on one another, and Ferrante so excellently doles out information that your reading of 1 book in the series seriously affects you 4.5 stars Review to come. But obviously it was great. --- Ok, now that I've had time to come up with some thoughts--though, no promises that they will be coherent--I can attempt to write a review of this one. Like the 2 preceding novels in the Neapolitan novels series by the fabulous Elena Ferrante, this one is quite hard to rate on its own. The stories are so dependent on one another, and Ferrante so excellently doles out information that your reading of 1 book in the series seriously affects your perceptions/thoughts/feelings about the previous ones. This novel is no exception. We learn so much more about adult Lila & Elena. There are equal portions of this novel that focus on each character under a microscope. We go for chapters and chapters without hearing about the other and vice versa. But at the end of the day, their friendship, everything about them as a pair, is central to this novel. And that struggle to balance their dependence on one another with their need to grow up and move on really reflects well the titular dichotomy of Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. Can I just say, dang, Ferrante comes up with good titles. It's so multi-layered, and the deeper you get into the novel the more you realize how many ways she's twisting it. Once again, Ferrante treats the reader like an intellectual. She trusts you enough to not hold your hand through every moment, and by doing so, she gives you a much more pleasurable, satisfying and ultimately fantastic read. --- First read: Feb 23 - March 8, 2016 Second read: Dec 20-24, 2018

  5. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    [From Le nouveau nom] I wrote and rewrote my review of Elena Ferrante's third volume, but each version I produced seemed stupider than the last; empty words, tired formulas, a well-crafted and earnest nullity of expression. In the end, although I had promised myself I would not do so, I emailed the draft to my friend and asked for her advice. An hour later, she skyped me back. "So what do you expect me to do?" she asked. She seemed to be in a particularly bad mood. "You're the reviewer. You un [From Le nouveau nom] I wrote and rewrote my review of Elena Ferrante's third volume, but each version I produced seemed stupider than the last; empty words, tired formulas, a well-crafted and earnest nullity of expression. In the end, although I had promised myself I would not do so, I emailed the draft to my friend and asked for her advice. An hour later, she skyped me back. "So what do you expect me to do?" she asked. She seemed to be in a particularly bad mood. "You're the reviewer. You understand this shit. I haven't written a review in years." "I just wondered if you could look at it," I said. "Like you used to." "Yes," she said scornfully. "Well, you can start by taking out the Proust." "Have you even--" I began, but she cut me off. "She's nothing like Proust," she said. "Proust's just a French ponce who spends a million words boring you to death about how he became a writer. Ferrante never bores you. It looks like she's doing the Proust thing with memory and time and art, but it's quite different. You don't understand Proust at all." I was cut to the quick; I prided myself on my knowledge of Proust, which I had acquired through years of diligent study. She continued. "And you can take out Knausgård too. Jesus Christ, he's worst than Proust. He takes even longer to explain that novelists are fascists, you know that's going to be the punchline by page two." As usual, I already felt helplessly lost. All I could do was nod. "And Simone de Beauvoir," she said. "Well, that was better. The style's not so different. And it is a bit like Les Mandarins. Sex and violence and disgusting hypocritical intellectuals. You can leave Simone in." When had she found time to read all these books? She said she never read any more. "Then what--" I began again. "You need to move downmarket," she said. "Stephenie Meyer. Twilight. Vampires." "Vampires?" I said weakly. "But what in the text could possibly--" "It's right there in chapter 122," she said. "Fuck me dead, don't you people see anything you aren't expecting to see? Lila calls Nino a blood-sucking vampire. And he is. This book is Twilight for people who at least have a quarter of a brain. Elena is Bella, a stupid little bookish girl who can't write and can't think and lies to herself all the time, and understands that the only way out is to find a vampire who'll rescue her. No matter what it costs. I've got to go." She hung up before I could answer. I wished now that I hadn't called her, but it was too late. [To L'enfant perdue]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    ”Each of us narrates our life as it suits us.” ~Lila Cerullo Mount Vesuvius simmers on the edges of Naples, a dragon in slumber, a metaphor for the rumbling, teeming city that erupts in violence without warning. The view of the volcano's hulking presence, seen through the windows of an upscale apartment, serves as proof that one has risen above the squalor of “the neighborhood” to arrive in the loftier heights. But no amount of money or education can sand away the rough resentments of those raise ”Each of us narrates our life as it suits us.” ~Lila Cerullo Mount Vesuvius simmers on the edges of Naples, a dragon in slumber, a metaphor for the rumbling, teeming city that erupts in violence without warning. The view of the volcano's hulking presence, seen through the windows of an upscale apartment, serves as proof that one has risen above the squalor of “the neighborhood” to arrive in the loftier heights. But no amount of money or education can sand away the rough resentments of those raised to fight for every scrap of power. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third installment of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels quartet, strikes me as the most intimate of the books. For it is here that Elena Greco turns from her past, staying away Naples for years at a time, closing the door on the embarrassment of her family and the simmering envy of her best friend, Lila Cerullo. We see more of Elena’s internal life than we’ve seen in the previous books as we follow her into marriage and motherhood. Elena Ferrante has admitted that much of her Neapolitan Novels is autobiographical and in Elena Greco we realize the irony of a young writer surrounded by profound social change, struggling to absorb and understand it, aching to write about it, yet confounded by her sexual awakening and domestic demands. She has defied the preordained path of marriage, children, poverty and drudgery by leaving Naples, completing university and becoming a celebrated author, yet now finds herself in exactly the place she was certain she’d escaped: the nursery, the kitchen, losing her singularity in the demands of husband and babies. This novel is also the most political of Ferrante’s extraordinary bildungsroman. Opening against the backdrop of the 1968 student uprisings in Paris, and carrying into the 1970s Vietnam War protest movement, the clashes in Italy between the communists and neo-fascists, Baader-Meinhof and the rise of the Red Brigade, feminism and the sexual revolution, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay shows the social awakening of a nation through the intelligent but naïve eyes of Elena. “The Personal is Political,” a phrase coined by feminist Carol Hanisch in 1970, is brought to narrative life by Ferrante’s women. Elena's first novel is selling well and she is infused with a sense of her own relevance. Yet, just as she finds her voice and her star rises, she marries Pietro Airota, the son of her literary champion Adele, and settles in Florence. Pietro, a seemingly liberal and enlightened university professor, balks when Elena expresses her desire not to have children right away; she is a writer and needs the time to continue learning and exploring her craft. But the Pill is not yet legal and Pietro has married her with far different expectations. The birth of two daughters in the first years of her marriage stultifies Elena’s creative intentions and her literary star dims and fades out. Miles and lifetimes away, where we left her at the end of The Story With A New Name, Lila has become as physically frail as a branch stripped bare. She lives a platonic life with Enzo, after first fleeing her marriage to abusive Stefano and then her lover, the enigmatic Nino, raising her son and grinding through her days at a sausage factory. While Elena, consumed by motherhood, barely glances at the daily newspaper headlines, Lila is at the frontlines of the labor movement, agitating workers by standing up to the abuse and advances of her employer. This is a novel of fierce and brutal love, of rivalry in marriage, in friendship, in national pride. But at its heart, the Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay is the story of friendship, of the violence we do to those we love the most. Elena and Lila collide and spin away, only to orbit again into each other’s hearts. A phone call after months or years apart picks up their emotional conversation where it last left off, mercurial Lila prodding Elena to become the scholar, the writer, the figure of cultural significance Lila wants her to be, who Lila herself aches to be. They live in the shadows of their shared expectations, trying to push the other into the light. Lila is the novel’s conscience, Elena its irony; together they form the story of social awakening and exploration. The women and men of these Neapolitan clans are so wholly under my skin, I feel with each page I’m mining my own family’s history. Ferrante writes with such urgency, such angry clarity, that my own psychology is flushed and agitated. "Too many bad things, and some terrible, had happened over the years, and to regain our old intimacy we would have to speak our secret thoughts, but I didn't have the strength to find the words…," says Elena at the start of Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, looking back on sixty years of friendship. Yet those secret thoughts are offered to the reader in an intimate, vulnerable and enraged portrait of feminine friendship, with Ferrante's beautiful, powerful language. These books are astonishing. I’m already gutted that Book Four, its U.S. release imminent, is the last. ETA: Interesting article in today's London Review Bookshop: Elena Ferrante on Anonymity

  7. 4 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    Finally getting back to this series. I thoroughly enjoyed books one and two by Ferrante. But I waited to get to book three. I started this series via audio and wanted to finish them all via audio. Oddly, my library only had books 1, 2, and 4 in audio. So I waited for them to get it. But the main reason I waited.....I dread seeing the end of this absolutely amazing story! Again we are drawn into the lives of Elena and Lila. This book picks up immediately where book 2 left off, though they all do t Finally getting back to this series. I thoroughly enjoyed books one and two by Ferrante. But I waited to get to book three. I started this series via audio and wanted to finish them all via audio. Oddly, my library only had books 1, 2, and 4 in audio. So I waited for them to get it. But the main reason I waited.....I dread seeing the end of this absolutely amazing story! Again we are drawn into the lives of Elena and Lila. This book picks up immediately where book 2 left off, though they all do that. Elena is now a published author and is rising in influence and wealth. Lila is working at the sausage factory, raising her son, living and working in squalor but remaining strong as ever. I'll not go into the details of this one, but say just read the series. I don't want to give anything away and really, I can't quite put my finger on why these books are so captivating, so mesmerizing. I can't wait to get to book four, the final book to see what happens, but I'm sad it is the last book. This is the first series of books I have ever finished. What can I say.....I loose interest in long, drawn out series. That never happened here. In fact, if there were more of these books, I would continue to read them. Between reading this one, Elena Ferrante was unmasked by some reporter who obviously had some other agenda. Does it take away from my reading these books? No. Does it add anything to my reading? No. Sometimes I almost feel much of what is in these books is taken from the authors life - no where has that been said, these are works of fiction, but it just feels so real. I truly feel some one lived this story. And I want to hear more. Perhaps that is why she wanted to remain silent. Or perhaps she just did not want to be bombarded constantly about her works (see Harper Lee). I listened to the audio and the narration is wonderful. Hillary Huber does an amazing job and *is* the voice of Elena and Lila. My only nit-pick is so many characters (they are all wonderful) with many nicknames - it's hard to keep track of them at times. In the print version, there is a 'character tree' that tells who everyone is. Even after three books I still have to refer to this. I recommend this series to anyone who loves a great story, who wants to be immersed in the lives of the people in these books, and who may just want to be transported away for a few hours into something really great.

  8. 4 out of 5

    William2

    Each book in the Neapolitan series has its different delights. In Volume One, My Brilliant Friend, it was childhood, education and ambition. In Volume Two, The Story of a New Name, the zombie-like mindlessness of youthful sexual awakening. Here, its wealth and poverty and the irrationality of lovers. Author Ferrante shows us why Communism was embraced by so many hardworking Italians. Her tale may be beholden to Ignazio Silone, yet it gives one a compelling understanding of the hopes and dreams th Each book in the Neapolitan series has its different delights. In Volume One, My Brilliant Friend, it was childhood, education and ambition. In Volume Two, The Story of a New Name, the zombie-like mindlessness of youthful sexual awakening. Here, its wealth and poverty and the irrationality of lovers. Author Ferrante shows us why Communism was embraced by so many hardworking Italians. Her tale may be beholden to Ignazio Silone, yet it gives one a compelling understanding of the hopes and dreams the ideology inspired. That it was still doing so well into the late 1960s, long after the horrors of Stalin had become known, says much about its intoxicating propensities. At the same time, she crystallizes the awful self-righteous bluster of the class-struggle people, most notably in the drivel espoused by Pasquale. One of the failures of Communism was its sacrifice—always—of the individual to group. Yet while Pasquale is emoting self-righteously—because Lila's declining health prevents her from unionizing a local sausage factory—in his lap sits the radiantly bourgeois Nadia, whom Nino threw over for Lila in Volume 2. Pasquale plays the high moral hand on behalf of the workers, yet it's the woman here who emboldens him to spout the long dead clichés. Pasquale's hypocrisy, not to mention his cavalier attitude to Lila's health, stinks. Even so, the Neapolitans see the Party as a way out, a means of overcoming a brutal, impoverished existence. I'm most impressed by the detailed abhorrence of motherhood. Has anyone anywhere said it as well? Not in anything I have read. Ferrante shows both sides, the fleeting I-am-the-Earth-Goddess nurturing phase, which is elating, uplifting and brief. But then comes the morning sickness; the murderous hatred, when stressed or tired, of one's own child; the virtual purdah of being a married woman with children during the Sexual Revolution (c. 1970). Lina is positively unhinged by motherhood and warns Lenù of what is to come. But Lenù won't listen, won't admit that her old friend is right. And, my God!—the fights Lenù has with her new husband, the fantasies of other men, the adulterous trysts aborted at the last second. As Alphonso says, "Life is a very ugly business, Lenù." (p.212) Finally we get to the crux of the title itself. Lenù, who has left Naples, to live in Florence with her academic husband, Pietro, can't understand how the lives of her family and friends in the old neighborhood have changed. She returns to find Lina, who has stayed in Naples, working for Michele Solara, her erstwhile enemy. (The Solaras are all Cammorists.) Her sister Elisa is living in so-called sin with Marcello Solara at the open acquiesce of her termagant mother. All the old neighborhood enemies are dining together lightheartedly. Lenù—there in Elisa and Marcello's flat, with the old neighborhood loan shark Manuela Solara, too—is caught between two worlds. She wants to apply the old enmities of childhood to the current situation, but life in the neighborhood has radically changed. Accommodations have had to be made that, even if only brief, were previously unthinkable. Lenù and Lila are no longer in sync. Lenù feels they have lost the power to speak intimately and they have. The tetralogy is sold as the ultimate tale of the friendship of two women. But from early on in Volume 2 they fight as much as they harmonize, perhaps more. Light moments become increasingly rare. Lenù is isolated in Florence and Lina in Naples. On the other hand, and I think this is a sign of the times—the action's now set in the mid-1970s—but the utopian socialist vibe being so prevalent there is a strong romanticization of the idea of a womens' collective. It's the same unrealizable dream of the triumph of the proletariat. For better or worse, human beings are driven by a self-interest that knows no gender. Then the wish to telephone her [Lina] returned, to tell her: Listen to what I'm thinking about, please let's talk about it together, you remember what you said about Alfonzo? But the opportunity was gone, lost decades ago. I had to learn to be satisfied with myself. (p. 354) It's not just the splendid clarity and earnest forthrightness of the narration, it's also the way Ferrante maintains the flux of mood that in my view makes these book almost magical, and I mean that in a non-pejorative sense. Sometimes it's one voice, sometimes several—solo, duo, trio etc—so the effect can become somewhat operatic. And it's modulated with an effortlessness throughout. That seeming ease is in my view what makes the novels worth rereading. Ferrante, it finally strikes one, is a writer's writer. Lenù is a maniac toward the end. One pities Pietro, her husband. She thinks she's still going to be Nino's one and only. Why is she still running after this deadbeat who has left his bastards all over Naples? All this while she's writing of man's dastardly fabrication of women down the ages: rib of Adam to make Eve and so on. Then—finally—Lenù and Nino fuck, as they must, though they are both married by now and it tears the two families apart. You can't warn people. They have to make their own mistakes. They have to screw up and live to regret it. On to Volume 4...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    I am barreling through Ferrante books and loving them. In book 3, Elena and Lila are now in their 20s and 30s and still living parallel and occasionally intersecting lives with mariage, lovers, kids, and lots of self-questioning. There is not one particular aspect or scene that comes to mind, but the overall impression of a very Proustian inspired look at the varying fates of these two women and how much they are changed (and unchanged) by the society that is changing around them. The secondary I am barreling through Ferrante books and loving them. In book 3, Elena and Lila are now in their 20s and 30s and still living parallel and occasionally intersecting lives with mariage, lovers, kids, and lots of self-questioning. There is not one particular aspect or scene that comes to mind, but the overall impression of a very Proustian inspired look at the varying fates of these two women and how much they are changed (and unchanged) by the society that is changing around them. The secondary and tertiary characters lack some depth because of the nearly obsessive focus on the two protagonists. I do appreciate the first person narration by Elena (the character) and how she is able to weave Lila's story around hers. I can't wait to read #4!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    "Become… I wanted to become, even though I had never known what. And I had become, that was certain, but without an object, without a real passion, without a determined ambition. I had wanted to become something – here was the point – only because I was afraid that Lila would become someone and I would stay behind. My becoming was a becoming in her wake. I had to start again to become, but for myself, as an adult, outside of her." I finished this third book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series t "Become… I wanted to become, even though I had never known what. And I had become, that was certain, but without an object, without a real passion, without a determined ambition. I had wanted to become something – here was the point – only because I was afraid that Lila would become someone and I would stay behind. My becoming was a becoming in her wake. I had to start again to become, but for myself, as an adult, outside of her." I finished this third book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series three weeks ago. Yet I feel as if I just turned the last page only this morning. I suppose you could say that the entire series has really grown on me and become almost a part of me this past year. There is no way I will ever forget Elena and Lila and their complicated and baffling friendship. Reading this book left me mentally drained – I don’t even know if I can gather together my thoughts to write a cohesive review here! Perhaps too much energy went into submerging myself into the lives of these two women and I should just leave it at that. If I had to seriously and so meticulously dissect my own relationships with my female friends, as Elena does here with Lila, I fear I would perhaps no longer have a single friend! Maybe I would even lose sight of myself. Still, it is exactly this scrutiny which sucks me into these novels. In Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Ferrante writes from Elena’s perspective. We see both women pass through their twenties and into their thirties. One has managed to escape the violence and the poverty of the old Naples neighborhood, while the other remains behind. While initially it seemed clear which woman ‘left’ and which ‘stayed’, I began to question whether or not perhaps the answer is actually the reverse. Their lives are so intertwined since they were little girls, that there can be no concise conclusion – each depends on the other to mark their own individual successes. I am going to refrain from discussing the plot in any detail, but rather note generally that feminism, marriage and motherhood are all explored. We also witness the political tensions in Italy during the late 1960s/early 1970s. Certainly, the friendship continues to be tested. Honestly, I cannot say that I identify with either Elena or Lila. In the earlier books in this series I would have to admit that any sympathy I doled out would have been directed towards Elena. Now, however, the tables have turned; I find Elena to be especially disagreeable while instead I find greater appreciation in Lila’s personality, despite her abrasive edges. I think Lila genuinely wants the best for Elena, while Elena wants to ensure that Lila does not surpass her. The intensity of the story continues to build throughout. Consistent with the previous Neapolitan novels, this one ends on a cliffhanger as well. I was rather stunned! I am certain that choices made will reverberate straight through the fourth book, and that the next chapter of these women’s lives will be as tortuous and absorbing as the last. "Each of us narrates our life as it suits us."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Claire Melanie

    This book was pretty readable and I'm curious to find out what happens to the characters after having read the two previous books in this series but there are literally no likeable characters at all. They're all such insufferable self obsessed arseholes who are hideous to each other and completely self involved. Really weird. I guess I'll read the last one cause this one certainly ended on a cliffhanger. This book was pretty readable and I'm curious to find out what happens to the characters after having read the two previous books in this series but there are literally no likeable characters at all. They're all such insufferable self obsessed arseholes who are hideous to each other and completely self involved. Really weird. I guess I'll read the last one cause this one certainly ended on a cliffhanger.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Elena is married, living in Florence with a husband she fights with often. They have two daughters.....making her life even more complicated. Choices need to be made. Will she leave....or will she stay? And regardless of her choice--what else has to happen? For her? Her children? Husband? Is being happy with yourself dependent on if you stay OR leave? Basically- Elena is not content as a Betty Crocker type domestic-woman. She spends a great amount of time evaluating her every move, her every thou Elena is married, living in Florence with a husband she fights with often. They have two daughters.....making her life even more complicated. Choices need to be made. Will she leave....or will she stay? And regardless of her choice--what else has to happen? For her? Her children? Husband? Is being happy with yourself dependent on if you stay OR leave? Basically- Elena is not content as a Betty Crocker type domestic-woman. She spends a great amount of time evaluating her every move, her every thought, questions her value...measures herself against Lila....and others. So, in many ways, book three is more Elena's story than the first two previous books were. In book Three, we see more social awakening -[1969-1970]- there's the Vietnam war, the rise of feminism, and sexual upheavals....all beginning in a sausage factory. [where Lila works].... Violence - protests- and the labor movement..... Conflicts are rising between communists and fascists. In many ways this is the most intense. It's hard to believe that this book went even deeper than book two.....but it does! A deeper evaluation about friendship, about the changing roles for women - in marriage and career.....About sex-love- money- social status- and personal self expression. Crazy choices? I'll let you decide! Excellent - thought provoking!!!!!!!!!! Gorgeous writing and dialogue as always!!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    From the beginning, the reading of Ferrante has been a visceral experience. Yet, reading her standalone novels first did not prepare for me for what a hyperrealistic fever dream these Neapolitan Novels have been. Unlike hyperrealistic works of visual art where what is underneath proves that the picture is not real, what is underneath here seems all too real. Upon finishing this installment I even felt guilty, as if I were complicit in the character's decisions. The narrator's scholarly work on ma From the beginning, the reading of Ferrante has been a visceral experience. Yet, reading her standalone novels first did not prepare for me for what a hyperrealistic fever dream these Neapolitan Novels have been. Unlike hyperrealistic works of visual art where what is underneath proves that the picture is not real, what is underneath here seems all too real. Upon finishing this installment I even felt guilty, as if I were complicit in the character's decisions. The narrator's scholarly work on male authors who write from a female viewpoint (e.g, Flaubert/Bovary) fits the developing character, but is Ferrante (who at one time was speculated to be male) having a bit of fun here? Or is she venting her anger? (The latter is much more likely; there's no fun in Ferrante.) Of great interest to me, and it's more evident in Book Three than in the first two, was the recognition of elements that originated in Ferrante's standalone novels, especially The Lost Daughter: a child's doll; a powerful, threatening family; the breaking of glass by a distraught adult in front of a small child; the paring of the skin of a fruit into one unbroken strip; and, of course, abandonment. I must abandon Ferrante until at least September, a forced hiatus, I am not willing. ... maybe, in the face of abandonment, we are all the same; maybe not even a very orderly mind can endure the discovery of not being loved.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    Series described as, inter alia, Passionate, Vicious, Intimate, Sweeping, Challenging, Flummoxing, Ferocious, High Stakes, Subversive and Blisteringly Good on Bad Sex If you've not started reading them, WHY NOT? Neapolitan actress Valeria Golino [Hot, Hot, Hot] The 3d of the "Neapolitan Novels" tetralogy by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante (a pseudonym). Ms. Ferrante says she considers the four volumes to constitute one novel. Instead of giving an overall description of the books again, I'll jus Series described as, inter alia, Passionate, Vicious, Intimate, Sweeping, Challenging, Flummoxing, Ferocious, High Stakes, Subversive and Blisteringly Good on Bad Sex If you've not started reading them, WHY NOT? Neapolitan actress Valeria Golino [Hot, Hot, Hot] The 3d of the "Neapolitan Novels" tetralogy by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante (a pseudonym). Ms. Ferrante says she considers the four volumes to constitute one novel. Instead of giving an overall description of the books again, I'll just include a link to My Review of #2: The Story of a New Name in case you'd like to read it. This one, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay has been, by far, the most turbulent, carrying the two female friends, Elena and Lila, from their mid-20s into their early 30s. While #2 focused mainly on Lila and all the changes in her life, #3 covers Elena, the narrator, in much more detail. I found myself in an anguishing moral conflict with the protagonist toward the end of this one and into the final. Sorry, I can't tell you why without giving you a spoiler. Since I began the last hundred pages of My Brilliant Friend (#1), I have zoomed through these novels. I've read some reviews that put into words what I'm just now getting my head around on the reasons I'm addicted to these novels. I rarely quote other reviews, but here my wisdom tells me to make an exception if it will convince others how good these books are. So I'll quote them briefly, if you don't mind: My favorite which describes my reading to a T is from the New Yorker: " When I read [the Neapolitan novels] I find that I never want to stop. I feel vexed by the obstacles—my job, or acquaintances on the subway—that threaten to keep me apart from the books. ... I am propelled by a ravenous will to keep going. ’" This is "high stakes, subversive literature." -- Sunday Telegraph ‘Nothing you read about Elena Ferrante’s work prepares you for the ferocity of it…This is a woman’s story told with such truthfulness that it is not so much a life observed as it is felt.’ New York Times "Her voice is passionate, her view sweeping and her gaze basilisk" New York Times Sunday Book Review "The Neapolitan series stands as a testament to the ability of great literature to challenge, flummox, enrage and excite as it entertains.’" Sydney Morning Herald "Her novels ring so true and are written with such empathy that they sound confessional.’" Wall Street Journal "Ferrante, perhaps thanks to her anonymity as an author, is blisteringly good on bad sex...." Independent

  15. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Marciano

    Reading Elena Ferrante's trilogy has been a marathon of never ending awe. I'm still electrified from reading the last volume. Lila and lena will stay with me for a very very long time. Pleease read "My Brilliant Friend" trilogy and keep in mind that it gets better and better and better and better as you turn each page. Reading Elena Ferrante's trilogy has been a marathon of never ending awe. I'm still electrified from reading the last volume. Lila and lena will stay with me for a very very long time. Pleease read "My Brilliant Friend" trilogy and keep in mind that it gets better and better and better and better as you turn each page.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brown Girl Reading

    And the saga continues.... This book is a slow burn. The first 100 pages are pretty bland to be honest but by page 200 I was all in again and by 300 I was unable to stop reading. The subtlety and attention to details are incredible! As I read this series it feels like it's based on reality. Ferrante, still writing from Lenu's point of view, shows us what happens to those who leave nd those who stay. All I can say is brilliant book/writing and I recommend it. And the saga continues.... This book is a slow burn. The first 100 pages are pretty bland to be honest but by page 200 I was all in again and by 300 I was unable to stop reading. The subtlety and attention to details are incredible! As I read this series it feels like it's based on reality. Ferrante, still writing from Lenu's point of view, shows us what happens to those who leave nd those who stay. All I can say is brilliant book/writing and I recommend it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Em Lost In Books

    How did things got this messy and dirtier?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    "Ferrante’s singularity is to make a glory of introspection and turn it into theatre. There’s a dark ardour present in her writing, and a thrilling physicality to her metaphors, boldly translated by Ann Goldstein. She speaks of “the anxious pleasure of violence”, of desire feeling “like a drop of rain in a spiderweb”. Her charting of the rivalries and sheer inscrutability of female friendship is raw. This is high-stakes, subversive literature." Catherine Taylor for The Telegraph A theatre of intro "Ferrante’s singularity is to make a glory of introspection and turn it into theatre. There’s a dark ardour present in her writing, and a thrilling physicality to her metaphors, boldly translated by Ann Goldstein. She speaks of “the anxious pleasure of violence”, of desire feeling “like a drop of rain in a spiderweb”. Her charting of the rivalries and sheer inscrutability of female friendship is raw. This is high-stakes, subversive literature." Catherine Taylor for The Telegraph A theatre of introspection. A thrilling physicality. High-stakes literature. This comes pretty close to summing up the genius of Elena Ferrante and the high-wire act that are the Neapolitan Novels. These books thrum on so many levels that I finish each volume with my heart racing and my mind on fire. It feels like the whole world is humming. I finish each volume with a heightened sense of living, with the sense that I have been privy to the inner workings of a singular mind and body, of an entire culture, of a political genesis, of the city of Naples all at once. I have the curious sensation of having witnessed the birth of an artist. Both in Elena (Lenu) the character and Elena the author. The Neapolitan Novels may very well be Italy's answer to Proust's "À La Recherche du Temps Perdu". A more solar, raw and untethered version of the same quest: an almost physical need to make sense of the past, to search for the roots of one's personality in the choices that we make or are made for us, to understand (mostly in vain, but what nobility in trying) the people closest to us, those who escape us the most. And finally, what wilderness in these women! What uncensored, touching, beguiling, indefinable, vital, complicated and obsessed beings they are. These are characters that explode the notions of "likable" and "unlikable". You cannot sum them up. They will trickle through your fingers like sand. Il più bravo.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    I am completely and utterly spellbound, bewitched. Each novel in the series is getting me more hooked. Again, where do I start? I'll just write a few thoughts. It's the 70s. Elena is married to her university boyfriend, who's now a Professor and a very dull individual. Ferrante is brilliant at conveying the loneliness of domesticity. The conflict between loving your family and wanting to be there for them and the mind-numbness of the constant chores. Even the sex is a chore. Elena is disappointed I am completely and utterly spellbound, bewitched. Each novel in the series is getting me more hooked. Again, where do I start? I'll just write a few thoughts. It's the 70s. Elena is married to her university boyfriend, who's now a Professor and a very dull individual. Ferrante is brilliant at conveying the loneliness of domesticity. The conflict between loving your family and wanting to be there for them and the mind-numbness of the constant chores. Even the sex is a chore. Elena is disappointed to discover how little her husband cares for her opinion, actually, he never seeks her opinion for anything intellectual or work related. Why has she put all that effort into studying, into making herself into something? So many conflicting thoughts and feelings. The world is changing. The Italian society is undergoing changes and there's a lot of violence, even in Florence where Elena and her family live. Lila meanwhile has moved back to the old neighbourhood. The contact between Elena and Lila is either sporadic with long periods of no contact or frequent over the phone. Elena still seeks Lila's approval and wonders frequently what would Lila think, do. Of course, Lila is still finicky and unreliable and very stubborn. Nino, Elena's biggest love and Lila's former lover, reappears into Elena's life. He's also a professor and has work relationships with Piedro, Elena's husband. This volume also ends on a cliffhanger. So bring on the end of the month, when I'm due to get my hands on the 4th instalment. I can't wait.

  20. 5 out of 5

    DeB MaRtEnS

    I give up. Elena Ferrante and I are not simpatico. I have this novel- I'm skimming- I'm dreading the wordiness, the limbo, the chatter of the novel. They are simply grim books, filled with agony after agony in detail. Life is tough enough but to have to expose myself to the microscopic examination of lives which never seem joyful, the minutiae of the mundane, the scrutiny of unfulfilled lives- I give up. Those who love these books- go for them. We all have choices. These aren't mine. Bye, Elena. I give up. Elena Ferrante and I are not simpatico. I have this novel- I'm skimming- I'm dreading the wordiness, the limbo, the chatter of the novel. They are simply grim books, filled with agony after agony in detail. Life is tough enough but to have to expose myself to the microscopic examination of lives which never seem joyful, the minutiae of the mundane, the scrutiny of unfulfilled lives- I give up. Those who love these books- go for them. We all have choices. These aren't mine. Bye, Elena.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    Political turmoil rages through the Italian landscape when Elena finally gets married to her professor, Pietro Airota, and Lila has settled down living with Enzo. Their worlds are a million miles apart as far as the two different lifestyles they have chosen is concerned. It doesn't take long for Elena to realize, what Lila could have told her anyway: Marriage by now seemed to me an institution that, contrary to what one might think, stripped coitus of all humanity."Years pass in which they do no Political turmoil rages through the Italian landscape when Elena finally gets married to her professor, Pietro Airota, and Lila has settled down living with Enzo. Their worlds are a million miles apart as far as the two different lifestyles they have chosen is concerned. It doesn't take long for Elena to realize, what Lila could have told her anyway: Marriage by now seemed to me an institution that, contrary to what one might think, stripped coitus of all humanity."Years pass in which they do not have contact. But then of course, Lila's capricious behavior gets Elena back into her life when the latter is sanctioned to urgently see Lila. Elena's book has just been published and she is dying to share the news with Lila. Lila's world has stopped, while Elena's was still in full motion. Lila was suffering, while Elena was riding the wave of success. Lila's anomalous nature soon has Elena running around again to safe her. The political tumult in Italy is as tempestuous as the relationships between the different inhabitants of the poor neighborhood in Naples. Lila was creating a novel with real characters, real blood. Elena wanted to write a novel with fictional characters. Lila was not afraid to live history. Elena researched history from her safe academic and intellectual pedestal. Lila was again Lila: Lila went, Lila did, Lila met, Lila planned. Whatever she set her mind to, happened. Unfortunately it was not always out in the open. Elena was out to please the world. In between the two poles lies the community within a potential volatile political landscape where people can get killed ..."The new living flesh was replicating the old in a game, we were a chain of shadows who had always been on the stage with the same burden of love, hatred, desire, and violence."My fingers are actually falling over themselves here on the keyboard in trying not to reveal the plot. An amazing plot it certainly is. It took me by surprise, although this is the third book in this series, and by this time it should have been quite obvious what lies ahead. But as the story progresses, slowly turning full circle, surprising elements emerges which bind all the subtle hints together in unexpected twists. It is certainly one of the most outstanding series of books, which defines women of all ages in all their glorious splendor. A complete picture is painted through all the different characters in the plot. They all have their own stories, linked to Lila and Elena through many hardships and moments of happiness (even if it superficial), flowing through the community like the blood in the streets."Lila noticed yet again the anxious pleasure of violence. Yes, she thought, you have to strike fear into those who wish to strike fear into you, there is no other way, blow for blow, what you take from me I take back, what you do to me I do to you."In the previous book I wanted to shake Lila. In this book I wanted to shake Elena twice as hard! But true to their story, when the one is up, the other one is down. Combine rigorous research, astonishing imagination, a unique narration, and fill it up with real life characters, and you've got this riveting tale about women. This is an incredibly strong story. The third books is even better than the first two. Now the wait for the fourth book is here. September 2015. Yes, the final installment in this saga will then be published. It better bring this torment to an end. It better be very good. :-)) And yep, the cliffhanger ending is there again. Yes. September 2015. I will have to get over this!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    This author certainly knows how to write a family saga. She just drags you in, fascinates you with details and leaves you, 418 pages later, with your mouth hanging open in amazement. Of course you have to rush out and get book four immediately. This despite the fact that most of the characters are not very nice people. All of the books are built upon the unusual bond between Lila and Lenu which is much more than just a friendship. Lenu appears to have escaped her small town upbringing and has mo This author certainly knows how to write a family saga. She just drags you in, fascinates you with details and leaves you, 418 pages later, with your mouth hanging open in amazement. Of course you have to rush out and get book four immediately. This despite the fact that most of the characters are not very nice people. All of the books are built upon the unusual bond between Lila and Lenu which is much more than just a friendship. Lenu appears to have escaped her small town upbringing and has moved on to better things but, maybe because she finds it impossible to believe in herself, she is never really happy. Ever since childhood she has always put herself in second place to Lila and now she puts herself second to everyone. When she finally reaches the moment when she breaks out the results are explosive. What will happen next? I am about to open The Story of the Lost Child and find out. I will be sad when the whole story is over.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Originally published on my blog, ShouldaCouldaWoulda Books. Hello and welcome back to the third edition of Kelly Freaks Out Over Elena Ferrante Theater! I hope that you didn’t come in here with the expectation that this was going to be the time that I got disillusioned with Elena, did you? Because that seems unlikely to happen. Ever. At least not with these Neapolitan novels. These things are like crack brownie ice cream pot (insert more adjectives that indicate addiction and deliciousness here) s Originally published on my blog, ShouldaCouldaWoulda Books. Hello and welcome back to the third edition of Kelly Freaks Out Over Elena Ferrante Theater! I hope that you didn’t come in here with the expectation that this was going to be the time that I got disillusioned with Elena, did you? Because that seems unlikely to happen. Ever. At least not with these Neapolitan novels. These things are like crack brownie ice cream pot (insert more adjectives that indicate addiction and deliciousness here) sandwiches. I will never say no to another. In this book our two darling girls are now in their mid-to-late twenties. Lila is dealing with the aftermath of her decision, in the second book, (view spoiler)[ to leave her husband and move in with a man who has loved her since she was a child (but never have sex with him). She is working long hours at a food processing plant, hired by someone else who once wanted to fuck her, and helping the man who took her in to study for a degree he is taking. Her family doesn’t speak to her, her husband barely acknowledges the existence of her child. (hide spoiler)] Elena, meanwhile, has finished college and is married to her professor husband, from a good middle class family of lefty intellectuals and lives in a comfortable home in Florence. She has two children over the course of the novel and falls out of intellectual life and relevance after the publication of her first book, struggling with her motherly responsibilities and her growing understanding that her husband clearly wants a much more traditional marriage than he lets on. She is also cut off from her lower-class family now, in a way, since they do not want to deal with her, but she gets snippets of news from the old neighborhood and stays in touch with Lila. So this is the part of your life, if you are following a life path similar to mine at least, where you start to lose touch with some of your nearest and dearest. Either that person is full enmeshed in transforming themselves, or you are completely absorbed by whatever project you’re working on, and they disappear off your radar for months or years. It isn’t that you don’t want to see this person, it’s probably more like you never divide your mental energy from whatever you’re absorbed with for long enough to be able to have the energy to call anyone. That couch looks sooooo good right now. And even in late 1960s/early 1970s Italy, that formula pretty much hold true. You might get something here and there from mom, or you might arrange a call after four failed attempts and hear something. But damn, its tough, even for near lifelong besties. Even if you know that that person will come back into your life eventually. What sucks about this though… well, I don’t know if “sucks” is the proper word here. I think it needs something more- “maddening” perhaps, or probably “inevitable”… is it’s not like your brain just stops working the way it always has just because you don’t see the people you used to anymore. It’s not like you aren’t still measuring yourself against them with everything you do, wondering if they have time to write, if they are creating and growing and getting better while you drown, wondering if they’d still like you now, if you’re falling behind and becoming the failure you always knew you would be, even if only by comparison. Because comparison is all that matters. Let’s be real. In considerations of success, which are usually tied up in class wars, in societal expectations, in your identity you built up for yourself, in family issues… it doesn’t matter how successful you are, you’ll only feel that way if your measuring stick isn’t too far ahead of you. Honestly, that’s what friends are for, sometimes- and sometimes it can be positive, it helps to push you and guide you and let you know when you’ve veered off course. And sometimes (more of the time) it’s utterly misery making. But when you love someone that much, respect them that much, have shared so much of your life with them, that’s how your brain works. You can’t calculate your life and what it’s worth without their presence. Wanting their approval and their love, even if only in your sick, sick imagination is part of how it goes. That’s one of the shitty underbellies of getting into a relationship, romantic or otherwise, with someone you respect. That respect becomes like food and fuel and fire to you, unless you can root them out of you. And I guarantee you, if someone’s got that many years and that much of a pattern in your psyche, they ain’t likely to be going nowhere. So that’s the aspect of deep friendship we get this time- the kind that’s a worm in your brain even when the person isn’t even there. We already know that Elena and Lila are unhealthily entwined, and have only gotten more so over the years. Elena, of course, more than Lila, since she is the “inferior” friend in this partnership. Which I can’t even… is just so true for someone who is insecure and who has met someone who has all the confidence and easy intelligence you never will. You can go to college, marry up, meet a great set of in laws, publish a book, have beautiful children and material comforts and still think that this person is better than you and always will be. I can name four people in my own life who fit this bill and just forced myself to stop before I went crazy. Ferrante does such a great job of dealing with this part of our lives where we transition into full adulthood. The sort marked by the events that oblige you to take on a role and an authority that you never had before- becoming a wife (which comes with far more expectations in 1970 Naples), becoming a mother and being in charge of someone, becoming old enough for people to look to you as an authority figure, succeeding in your career and having people ask you questions they think you know the answers to. She shows Elena dealing with an “imposter complex” in such a true to life, agonizing way. This is the “why are you looking at me like I know something?” transition into adulthood before you’re quite ready for the mantle- but there you are anyway. I loved how she shows, even then, the pressure on mothers and wives to “have it all” and be it all, both to their husbands and lovers and to themselves. It’s all just some history repeating- if you’re not having kids, then you’re heartless and unnatural in some way, of course. But beyond that- how you marry an intellectual who seems to want your opinion and your criticism, but really he just wants unconditional support that he can assure himself is educated and could disagree, because he’s not an ape, god! How wives and mothers need to be obedient, but sexy and fiery enough to hold their man’s interest at the same time. How you need to be daring in writing, but not daring enough that people call you a whore. (Again, a lot more of a death sentence at this time.) Ferrante showed me Elena scratching and screaming to get out, in all the passive aggressive ways that we do that- by yelling at her husband when he’s had a bad day, by taking it out on the kids for a small mistake, by raging at the mirror when she looks like the mother of two she is. I also, again, really liked the way that the surrounding world was woven into Elena’s story. This time period was highly political and volatile (as Italy’s politics have pretty much been, ever since WWII- pretty much a permanent hot mess with no solution). And if you pretend to be intellectual, or really in any way functioning and participating in society in an urban context, you’re going to have to have opinions and take sides and be judged. It wove through the story here particularly with communism and how all the characters interacted with that- clearly that was the Cool Kid Thing To Be at the time, and how each character tries to contribute to it (or at least be seen to be contributing to it) is so telling then, of their rank, status and what I’m meant to think of them as a person. Lila, for instance, Elena’s goddess she can never quite measure up to, even when she hates her, is the one who ends up doing the most concrete, visible thing that seems to make a difference, the thing that brings shame to all the ineffectual, pontificating intellectuals around her and shows them just how fake they are- while she is all the more authentic for being a worker herself. Another character reacts in a surly way to this, and then strikes a totally useless, bitter pose and becomes a layabout out of self-hatred. Elena is tongue-tied, writes some articles that she STILL gives full credit to her friend for, hating herself all the while for being less genuine than Lila. Her stiff, conventional husband doesn’t want to get involved, and refuses not to fail a communist student leader who didn’t do his work in class in order to help the class struggle- HOW UNCOOL CAN YOU BE, DAD! It was a great way to put us in the time and place without ever making some sort of preachy point of “and now here we are in this time” announcements. It’s as organic and natural and seemingly necessary as ever. And of course, for the intellectuals among us, Elena’s journey towards trying to write a book after the success of her first and her years long break to have kids, rings super true. Her failed efforts, her feelings of self-loathing, her decision to give it up all together only to find herself writing again years later without any real intent to have done so, something entirely new and unexpected. That self-punishing creative process that we all think is special and unique the first time we go through it and then realize that that’s just how some of us wrestle the beast out of us. How much energy she puts into the pose of being an intellectual, rather than just thinking the thoughts and asking the questions and reading the books that would make you one, apart from whatever image someone constructs of you. It’s more important to be seen that way since someone did you the favor of giving you that label- you’ll watch it like the world’s most paranoid den mother to be sure it’s never wrested away from you. Because of course what’s at stake, what’s always at stake in these novels is identity. For so long, your identity is tied up in who you spend your time with- your family at first, the only ones you are allowed to be around. Then friends, then more carefully chosen friends. Then your choices start to be taken into account in a wider sense and it gets higher and higher stakes as the years go on. Elena’s journey shows us how important forging an identity still is, even when you’re past thirty, with a family and responsibilities and, presumably, a better understanding of the mundane things that really make the world go round. In some ways it becomes even more important to have a very strong core sense of self, because there are a million things to be doing every day and you’ll never feel like you’ve done them all right, or enough of them. So you need to have a strong reason for doing everything that you do, otherwise you’ll really lose it. Children, spouses provide that anchor of course, but they are only something you’ve built onto your Self. That Self still needs to be there to let you know why you put in all the work those relationships mean. And of course, here… it’s always going to be tied up in Lila. Elena will never be free of her, and that is what has made her who she is today. I’m fascinated to see how we get from here to the sixty six year old woman we met in the flashback in the first book. I get where Lila comes from, what we’ve seen of her so far, but I really want to see her get over that hump with Lila. How does she detach, when do the fires go out? Does she really? Isn’t this book proof that she hasn’t? See? Barely a single action sequence in these books and it’s as suspenseful as anything I’ve read. I can’t wait for the fourth book to be translated in September. I can’t wait until all of you who have told me you will read these books catch up with me. Please tell me when you do so that we can talk about it. I want to gossip about this and dissect it like this is English 101- but with more sex and cocktails. It’s incredible. I envy you if you haven’t read it yet for still having it in front of you. Get to it, soldier!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Warwick

    In this book Lenù grows up, and suddenly Ferrante's meandering internal monologues swing into orbit around the twin poles of SEX and POLITICS. Perhaps this is why I found it more successful than the first two – the experiences of 60s student politics, the fight for workers' rights, Elena's gradual feminist awakening, all embed the neighbourhood of the earlier novels satisfyingly into a larger context, while her tangled relationships seemed more meaningful to me than the stuff she was worrying ab In this book Lenù grows up, and suddenly Ferrante's meandering internal monologues swing into orbit around the twin poles of SEX and POLITICS. Perhaps this is why I found it more successful than the first two – the experiences of 60s student politics, the fight for workers' rights, Elena's gradual feminist awakening, all embed the neighbourhood of the earlier novels satisfyingly into a larger context, while her tangled relationships seemed more meaningful to me than the stuff she was worrying about as a teenager. Or maybe I am just enjoying Ferrante's style more now. Her technique depends, I think, on a talent for generating frustration in the reader. When Elena gets involved with the wrong guys, she does not, as in some other writers, describe it by means of a lot of tortured expressions of regret and confusion. There's no justifications like I knew he was a dick, but I just couldn't help myself. Instead she just tells you what she did, and it's left to you as a reader to scream mutely at the page. Such outbursts tend to revolve around the presence of Nino Sarratore. ‘Oh, this dickhead again,’ you mutter whenever he appears – but Elena, who's now engaged to a nice professor, loses her fucking mind every time he slouches into her life. ‘Even as I was holding [my fiancé's] hand, even as I was affirming that I wanted to marry him, I knew clearly that if he hadn't appeared that night at the restaurant I would have tried to sleep with Nino.’ This despite the fact that he seems to do little but waltz around ‘sowing children’, as she puts it, among her friends and acquaintances. I realized that precisely because all women wanted him and he took them all, I who had wanted him forever wanted him even more. This is getting close to a lit-fic treatment of the kind of dynamic that gets posted to erotic fiction websites, tagged alpha-male, harem, cheating, breeding-fetish. At least she is finally getting some decent sex, though, which didn't seem to be much in evidence from past boyfriends, or indeed from her new marriage (an institution which, she says coolly, ‘stripped coitus of all humanity’). She behaves extremely badly, but as a narrator, Elena's willingness to show herself as dislikable, without offering any excuses, charmed me. It also clashes interestingly with her growing status, in the novel, as a feminist icon. In fact the disparity between her reputation and her behaviour is so glaring that Ferrante is almost playing it for comic effect, no less so because Elena's feelings on the status of women are deeply felt, and grounded in a lived experience that we, as readers, have been following for nearly a thousand pages. Her instinctive sense for injustice runs up against her pragmatic frustration with the earnestness of political activism, in a way that probably feels familiar to many people. It seemed to me I knew well enough what it meant to be female, I wasn't interested in the work of consciousness-raising. It's in this new swirl of intellectual stimulation that Lenù re-examines her relationship with Lina, through lenses both political (Lina as working-class revolutionary) and psycho-erotic (‘With difficulty I reached the point of asking myself: had she and I ever touched each other?’). And so all this book's many strange and wonderful tangents only serve, in the end, to add further facets and layers and accretions to that central relationship – which is still, somehow, as mysterious as it's ever been.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    4.25 stars Part three of the Neapolitan series. It's a continuation of the ever fascinating lives of the girls from the neighbourhood, Lila and Lenu. Their evolution and their friendship, still complex, is still compelling. While reading this, I had some thoughts: 1) Amid all the fighting and drama (of which there is a never-ending supply), NO ONE seems to be having good sex! 2) Lila is so unlikeable, about 99.9% of the time. I have a hard time understanding why Lenu hangs onto her. Some of the thin 4.25 stars Part three of the Neapolitan series. It's a continuation of the ever fascinating lives of the girls from the neighbourhood, Lila and Lenu. Their evolution and their friendship, still complex, is still compelling. While reading this, I had some thoughts: 1) Amid all the fighting and drama (of which there is a never-ending supply), NO ONE seems to be having good sex! 2) Lila is so unlikeable, about 99.9% of the time. I have a hard time understanding why Lenu hangs onto her. Some of the things Lila says and does are unforgivable. Those ruthless, narrowed eyes, the sharp and cruel tongue. That bond is sometimes beyond my comprehension. 3) The author says a lot about marriage that rings true - the reasons that people marry, the obstinacy of the heart, desires of the body, challenges and expectations and resignation. 4) The description of utter exhaustion and despair, of losing one's self after Lenu's daughter is born, was so realistic. 5) The ending - my heart is cleaved in two, both elated and apprehensive, for what lies ahead. Cannot wait to read the next instalment.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    This third book in The Neapolitan Novels was just as good as the other two. I think what is the most interesting about this series is to see how the two protagonists, Elena and Lila, grow up and develop from children to adults. In this book, it becomes clear that they develop in different ways and create a distance in their friendship, but still the tense dynamics between them was maintained. I'm pretty eager to read the last book in this series and see how everything ends :) This third book in The Neapolitan Novels was just as good as the other two. I think what is the most interesting about this series is to see how the two protagonists, Elena and Lila, grow up and develop from children to adults. In this book, it becomes clear that they develop in different ways and create a distance in their friendship, but still the tense dynamics between them was maintained. I'm pretty eager to read the last book in this series and see how everything ends :)

  27. 5 out of 5

    JenniferD

    YOU GUYS!!! i am currently having major angst. i somehow managed to totally miss the fact that there will be a 4th book in this series.... and that it does not come out until september, 2015. (i stay away from reviews until i have had a chance to read a book (books) for myself.) so while this series was all over my radar, i did not know too much about the books at all. so now... i have to wait to find out where this is all going. i am really at loose ends here. and a little twitchy. anyway... my YOU GUYS!!! i am currently having major angst. i somehow managed to totally miss the fact that there will be a 4th book in this series.... and that it does not come out until september, 2015. (i stay away from reviews until i have had a chance to read a book (books) for myself.) so while this series was all over my radar, i did not know too much about the books at all. so now... i have to wait to find out where this is all going. i am really at loose ends here. and a little twitchy. anyway... my suffering aside... elena ferrante is so good at what she does. everything is so strong and evocative. this book is set during a tumultuous time in italy's history, and she brings it to life so well. there is so much aggressiveness going on in the story: the political unrest and opposing factions, the carabinieri, the personal lives of the characters which seem, sadly, so full of abuse and despair. it's all so intense, loud and combative. it would be easy for these elements to be overdone and annoy the reader, but ferrante handles it all so well. i would say that someone is going to have an excellent thesis on feminism in the 'my brilliant friend' series. the feminism theme seems to get even stronger in this third book. one of the ideas i enjoyed, later in the3rd story, occurs when elena recognizes she has endured two relationships that were based upon male power. elena develops a theory, and begins an essay about the ways that men have depicted women in literature, from the bible through flaubert. the examination of female friendship is very raw and honest - the state of relations between lila and elena are always in flux. in her recollections, elena presents us with the gamut of their friendship and doesn't shy away from uglier truths - that friends can experience hate, indifference, jealousy, disgust almost as easily as feeling fondness, love and respect towards a person who is a best friend. having ferrante bring this examination of female friendship to readers is a huge and necessary treat for the literary canon. in a review, writer Mona Simpson said this of the series: "...the Neapolitan novels are something else, an altogether different order of art. Sometimes this happens: a writer works steadily and diligently and then there is a leap into the extraordinary. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay has been eagerly anticipated as the concluding volume of what had been for a long time called a trilogy. But there are still decades to cover in the saga of two girls from an impoverished neighborhood who try to get out and to make it, by way of the classical if increasingly unlikely means of betterment through education. We must be grateful. When this viscerally populated epic is complete it will give us what readers want most from prose fiction: a full world." so i will now wait for book #4. impatiently and anxiously. as with the previous books in this series, we are left with a cliffhanger. i may need a support group to get me through the next 8 months.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    After reading over 1000 pages in this trilogy, I am unable to find even one sympathetic character. They are just a self-absorbed bunch consumed by petty jealousies and strange alliances. I had real sympathy for the two main characters when they were very bright children living in a dangerous, poverty filled neighborhood. (My Brilliant Friend). I could even understand the poor decisions as teenagers. It was fun to read about their successes as adults (Story of a New Name). But, once they grew up After reading over 1000 pages in this trilogy, I am unable to find even one sympathetic character. They are just a self-absorbed bunch consumed by petty jealousies and strange alliances. I had real sympathy for the two main characters when they were very bright children living in a dangerous, poverty filled neighborhood. (My Brilliant Friend). I could even understand the poor decisions as teenagers. It was fun to read about their successes as adults (Story of a New Name). But, once they grew up and got married and had families, you just wanted to shout, "Grow Up." (Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay). I cannot imagine what there is left to learn about these characters in the next book due out in September. I am not sure it is worth the time I spent reading this.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Smartarse

    It's now Lenu's time to successfully climb out of the dreaded neighborhood. Having published her first novel, about to be married to the son of a famous university professor, and starting anew in Florence, what else could our heroine possibly wish for? Apparently, nothing that can't be fixed by putting some distance between her and the neighborhood. ... but Lenu finds that the world keeps moving at breakneck speed. She needs to build a career, have an opinion about the student protests, and also It's now Lenu's time to successfully climb out of the dreaded neighborhood. Having published her first novel, about to be married to the son of a famous university professor, and starting anew in Florence, what else could our heroine possibly wish for? Apparently, nothing that can't be fixed by putting some distance between her and the neighborhood. ... but Lenu finds that the world keeps moving at breakneck speed. She needs to build a career, have an opinion about the student protests, and also find the time to engage in lively discussions about politics. Yet she barely has enough time to take care of her newborn baby. Lila in the meantime, reluctantly finds herself smack dab in the middle of a worker's uprising and in an ever increasing feud between communists and fascists. A rather unenviable position to be in, most especially with a toddler in tow, and yet our heroine somehow finds herself flourishing against all odds... Once again, I was whisked away into 1970s Italy, and dropped in the midst of some tumultuous times. Just like Lenu, all I could do was try and hold on to the ever changing story, especially when it came to following Lila's account. The more people tried to grind her into the dust, the more stronger she'd emerge from it all. Ironically enough, while in theory so much better off, Lenu's supposedly fairytale life was falling apart around her. Or maybe it was just the girl that was falling apart? Suffice to say that I couldn't wait to finish the story... and yet at the same time I was constantly dreading what the next page would bring. Once again, Lenu's feelings have managed to capture my imagination, and make me tremble in fear at the world's perceived dismissal. Although the individual details of her life don't apply to me, the struggle to stay afloat in a world that won't wait for you to find your footing, was incredibly relatable. Score: 4.6/5 stars I was initially going to give it only 4 stars, because this 3rd installment depressed me beyond measure. At least the previous two books had some sort of silver lining at the end. However, seeing as I'm still thinking of this book with trepidation, one month after having finished reading it, that just sealed the deal. This book definitely deserves more, even though it'll leave you seriously anxious and depressed. ================== Review of part 1: My Brilliant Friend Review of part 2: The Story of a New Name Review of part 4: The Story of the Lost Child

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Fulcher

    "Because - and this was hard to admit - my model remained Lina, with her stubborn unreasonableness that refused to accept half measures, so that, although I was distant from her in every way, I wanted to say and do what I imagined she would do if she had my tools, if she had not confined herself within the space of the neighbourhood." Volume 3 of Elena's Ferrante's Neopolitan series returns us to the story of Elena and her childhood and lifelong friend Lina . Ferrante originally planned a trilog "Because - and this was hard to admit - my model remained Lina, with her stubborn unreasonableness that refused to accept half measures, so that, although I was distant from her in every way, I wanted to say and do what I imagined she would do if she had my tools, if she had not confined herself within the space of the neighbourhood." Volume 3 of Elena's Ferrante's Neopolitan series returns us to the story of Elena and her childhood and lifelong friend Lina . Ferrante originally planned a trilogy but decided, before writing this volume, to extend it. As with the previous novels, it has been beautifully translated by Ann Goldstein. Elena starts her account with a brief recollection of her last face-to-face encounter with Lina, in 2009 when they were both 65, and just prior to Lina's disappearance, which opens the series of novels. This volume is entitled "Storia di chi fugge e di chi resta" - rendered in English "Those who leave and those who stay". Speaking to Lina, Elena remembers thinking, back at the time of this volume, that Lina should "get away for good, far from the life we've lived since birth. Settle in well-organised lands where everything really is possible." But Elena realises that "I had fled, in fact. Only to discover, in the decades to come, that I had been wrong: that it was a chain with larger and larger links: the neighbourhood was connected to the city, the city to Italy, Italy to Europe, Europe to the whole world. And this is how I see it today: it's not the neoghbourhood that's sick, it's not Naples, it's the entire earth, it's the universe, or universes. And shrewdness meaning hiding, and hiding from oneself the true state of things." Elena picks up her and Lila's story at the exact moment where Book 2 left off - in the late 1960s and with Elena and Lila in their early 20s. Elena has graduated from university in Pisa, is engaged to the successful son of a prominent academic family, and has just become a published author - Lila's original dream. She is in Milan giving her first public book reading, where Nino Sarratore who Elena has not seen for 5 years, makes a surprise appearance in the audience. Nino was Linu and Elena's childhood friend and the only schoolmate who rivalled them intellectually. He played a very important emotional role for both Lila, Lila and Nino had an affair culminating in him being the assumed father of her son, and Elena, who was in love with Nino but ended up sleeping with his father, an episode she fictionalised in her debut novel. And he encounters Elena just as she is - after finding herself unable to refute the critical comments of an audience member - once more feeling that she hasn't really escaped from their Naples neighbourhood. She herself is both one who physically leaves and, at the same time, one who has mentally stayed: "I had become again the eager little girl from the poor neighbourhood of Naples, the daughter of the porter with the dialect cadence of the South, amazed at having ended up in that place, playing the part of the cultured young writer." Elena is actually temporarily back home, preparing for her wedding, whereas Lina has moved out of the neighbourhood due to her complex domestic situation - but both want to, and do, move in opposite directions. Lina moves back to the neighbourhood, but Elena concludes that for her future "the important thing was to get out of Naples". Indeed she contrasts Nino, who she still loves, with her fiance Pietro Airota, who has just received tenure at a university in Florence: "[Nino] was made of dreams, and holding on to him forever would have been impossible: he came from childhood, he was constructed out of childish desires, he had no concreteness, he didn't face the future. Pietro, on the other hand, was of the present, massive, a boundary stone. He marked a new land to me, a land of good reasons, governed by rules that originated in his family, and endowed everything with meaning. Grand ideals flourised, the cult of the reputation, matters of principle. Nothing in the sphere of the Airotas was perfunctory. Marriage, for example, was a contribution to a secular battle....He gave me the certainty that I was escaping the opportunistic malleability of my father and the crudeness of my mother." Marriage to Pietro and into the academically distinguished Airota family is Elena's escape route from Naples, from herself. But later she re-examines the realism of that desire: "What am I seeking? To change my origins? To change, along with myself, others, too? Repopulate this now deserted city with citizens not assailed by poverty and greed, not bitter or angry, who could delight in the splendor of the landscape like the divinities who once inhabited it?" Elena's life is increasingly physically distant from Lina's and as in Book 2 Ferrante has to resort to literary devices for Elena to be able to tell Lina's tale in detail. Here it is based on things like a lengthy confession made by Lina to Elena, which works rather better than the more cliched diaries approach used in Book 2. When Lina and Elena do meet we see the complexity of their relationship: "With her, there was no way to feel that things were settled; every fixed point of our relationship sooner or later turned out to be provisional: something shifted in her head that unbalanced her and unbalanced me....I realised she wasn't capable of thinking that she was her self and I was my self: it seemed to her inconceivable that I could have a pregnancy different from hers, and a different feeling than hers. She so took it for granted that I would have the same troubles as her, that she seemed ready to consider any possible joy I found in motherhood a betrayal." And yet the readers realises that Lina and Elena are much less different than Lina thinks, and if anything Elena is the dependent one. She herself comes to realise that "I was added to her, and I felt mutilated as soon as I removed myself. Not an idea, without LIla. Not a thought I trusted, without the support of her thoughts. Not an image. I had to accept myself outside of her." And when Elena tries to emphasise to Lina how smooth her pregnancy was, contrasting her experience to Lina's, but skating over the real difficulties, Lina sees through her and replies simply but devastatingly "each of us narrates our life as it suits us.". And of course, Lina's marriage to Pietro doesn't live up to her escapist ideals and she comes to re-examine her choice of him over her childhood sweetheart Nino. Indeed she finds herself taking Nino's side when the two argue: "I struggled to expel not the admiration, but the excitement - maybe, yes it was excitement - that gripped me in seeing, in hearing, how an Airota, an extremely well-educated Airota, lost ground, was confused, responded feebly to the swift, brilliant, even cruel aggressions of Nino Sarratore, my schoolmate, my friend, born in the neighbourhood, like me." But even between Nino and Elena, the influence of Lina looms large, Nino tells her: "Lina, when we were children, dazzled us both....you ended up attributing to her capacities that are only yours...I did worse. What I had seen in you, I then stupidly seemed to find in her." Volume 3 of the series continues with much the same, rather claustrophic, cast of characters from Lina and Elena's childhood as Volumes 1 and 2. But the story is now painted on a much broader canvas, echoing Elena's own increased interest in the wider world. We see the characters' relationships developing against the background of rapid changes in the political and social world - the student uprisings of 1968, Italian communism and fascism, intra-Communist schisms, sexual liberation and the Pill, the rise of secularism, the early stages of the computer age, and feminism. And against this background, Elena strives to repeat the feat of her first novel, and find a relevant narrative voice - which she ultimately does in a novella/essay looking at the invention of women by men, starting from the biblical creation story through to the great 19th century novels - Flaubert's Bovary and Tolstoy's Jarenina. "I discovered everywhere female automatons created by men. There was nothing of ourselves, and the little there was that rose up in protest immediately became material for their manufacturing". As an aside, one can't help but wonder if there is an implicit reference here to the persistent, although I suspect very ill-founded, rumours that Elena Ferrante is actually the pen name of a male author. Overall, a wonderful edition to what is rapidly becoming one of the key early 21st Century literary works. Volume 4 can't come too soon.

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