My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – Book Review

**This book was translated from Italian to English by Ann Goldstein


I follow this reading blog and podcast by Anne Bogel, called Modern Mrs Darcy, and I usually love her recommendations on books, especially on literary fiction. On a few of her podcast episodes and in her blog, she has highly recommended this book, and the entire series too. I had put it on my TBR, but luckily, I met a friend, who had a copy of this book in her home library and she insisted that I read it too!

The story in this book is about two girls – Lila Cerullo and Elena Greco. The story in the first book, this one, is about their lives, and their friendship, starting from when they are little girls to the time they turn sixteen. The story is set in Naples, Italy, and some of the description of the sea and the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius, are just breath taking. So if you are looking for a book to read, set in Italy, this would be a good choice πŸ™‚

I wondered, as I read through the book, about who the ‘brilliant friend’ is in the book? From the narrator’s point of view, it is her genius and beautiful friend. But there is a moment in the story, when the genius and beautiful friend remarks to the narrator, that she considers her to be her brilliant friend.

The story is extremely simple, mundane even. There are no twists, or betrayals, or anything out of the ordinary. It seems as if I was reading about anyone’s life. Even though it was set in Italy, in so many instances, I felt, this could have well been in India too, when it came to the dynamics of the little society the two girls live and grow in! However, this is where the brilliance of the author lies. Because, through this ordinary story, she got me to think about human beings, our personalities, what drives us to do anything really, about feelings and relationships. What is considered good or genius in our society? What truly is good, and what truly is beautiful or genius, for that matter?

There was this one sentence in the book, where the narrator remarks (probably not exact words, but about the gist of it), ‘It was like my life was bright and empty, whereas her life was dark and full‘. What a profound observation. Don’t we all feel that sometimes? When we have all the riches and all the comforts, and yet, feel as if there is a big gap somewhere that needs to be fulfilled. And sometimes, we look at the poor balloon sellers on the road, and their families and barefoot children, and see them laughing, even in those conditions, and wonder about the fullness of their lives? There are many such descriptions of thoughts and situations, that make this a great book to discuss in a book club, or with your friends, if you’ve buddy read it:)

While I was googling something about the book, I saw that this is going to or probably already been made into a series. I am quite excited now to watch these two heroines brought to life. I really loved the first book of the Neapolitan series, however, I do have to warn you, that the story doesn’t have a final conclusion in the first book, as I had hoped. So, I will need to read all the three books I think, in order to learn about the full story of Elena and Lila. Not that I mind, more books to read in the new year! hhehe πŸ˜€

How is your reading going? Just two more weeks for the year to end..I’m so excited! πŸ™‚ I think I can squeeze in one more book this year πŸ˜‰

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