My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Elena and Lila meet each other as very young girls living in the same neighbourhood in Naples. Not exactly becoming friends in the common sense of the word, but rather admirers of each other. They play separately, yet together, this being how their friendship continues as they grow. Both girls do well at school, spurred on by rivalry of each other, but also by using each other as a measuring stick for how well they perform. But then their paths diverge - Elena, whose point of view the book is written, is provided with an opportunity to further her studies, whilst Lila is told by her family that she will work. Though Elena is at first spurred on by her success, she initially fails to perform as well as her competition is no longer there.

Elena blossoms into a young woman before Lila, and enjoys newfound male attention. But then Lila has her own successes, she designs a shoe, she begins to blossom herself and is sought after by many of the young men in the village. The two meet sporadically and each time there is a sense of disappointment in the progress each of them has made, compared to the other. The end of the book is left on a cliff hanger that leaves the reader reeling. Ferrante portrays the lives of these two women in a jarringly honest way.

At times I felt uncomfortable, almost as though I was uninvited in some very intimate moments. I rooted for the characters, I berated them, I hoped for them and I was disappointed by them. I cared very deeply about them.

This book is for you if you enjoy an immersive, though-provoking read. I can't wait to read book 2.

Submitted by Noreen