- Series: Neapolitan Novels (Book 2)
- Paperback: 471 pages
- Publisher: Europa Editions; Later prt. edition (September 3, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1609451341
- ISBN-13: 978-1609451349
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 893 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Story of a New Name: Neapolitan Novels, Book Two Paperback – September 3, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
The second in a trilogy, book two rejoins narrator Elena Greco and her "brilliant friend" Lina Cerullo as they leave behind their claustrophobic Italian girlhood and enter the tumultuous world of young womanhood with all its accompanying love, loss, and confusion. Against the backdrop of l960s/70s Naples, the previously inseparable girls embark on diverse paths. At 16, Lila has married the prosperous local grocer, Stefano Carraci, only to discover at their wedding reception that he has already betrayed her and damned their union. Conversely Elena has chosen education, a less traditional route to free her from the stultifying village life. Lina asks Elena to hide a box of notebooks from her husband. Instead, she dumps them in the river but not without first reading them. Ferrante masterfully combines Elena's recollections of events with Lila's point of view as documented in her notebooks to drive the narrative. The women's fraught relationship and shifting fortunes are the life forces of this poignant book.
*Starred Review* Ferrante continues the beautiful tale she started in My Brilliant Friend (2012) with this brilliant second book of a promised trilogy. At 16, best friends Elena and Lila are weary of their impoverished neighborhood and its crippling traditions, but while Lila seeks to alter these circumstances through an advantageous marriage, Elena strives to leave it behind by pursuing her education. When Lila’s marriage fails to help her realize her goals, she becomes increasingly spiteful, and Elena, busy with an acceptance to college, grows critical of her progressively unpredictable friend. Once reliant on one another, the girls now find themselves occupying very different spheres in the rapidly changing landscape of 1970s Naples. As circumstances alternately draw them close and push them apart, they face difficult changes in the friendship that has always been their strongest source of love and support. Ferrante’s writing is captivating and insightful. She delves deeply into the character of the girls’ friendship, ushering them into womanhood with an honesty that is acutely personal. Her keen grasp of emotional nuances and minutiae evokes the work of D. H. Lawrence, and the richness of her storytelling is likely to please fans of Sara Gruen and Silvia Avallone. --Cortney Ophoff
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One aspect that mystifies me: why is there so little information about the war and what happens on a larger scale after the war? Maybe they were all so caught up in their own dramas that, at least after the war, the political scene only mattered when it impacted their own lives.
Of course, one reads on to Book Three. Terrible things happen, some of their own making, but also imposed on them. The intelligentsia come off in a bad light.
The stories are at once of a people, a place, and a time, yet they reveal the complexities of the characters as they change through the trajectory of their lives in Naples -- which is in the midst of a cultural change itself. This, is of course, how our lives will appear if, say, in advanced age we sit down with pen and paper or computer, to tell our grandchildren just how we were in our lifetime.
I have lived through the 40's, 50's, 60's and am still moving on. Imagine how surprised my grandchildren (or their children) will be when they who have only known me as kind, loving "Nana" read my journals! Wish I could be there and wish I could write as well as Ms Ferrante.
The drama of the two teen-age girls is more painful, more heartbreaking, and perhaps hard for some to take.
But their strength and beauty shines through, and we get to learn more about the history of post WWII Italy.
Some of this may be difficult to follow for those who are unfamiliar with Italian political and intellectual life.
But if you've read some Gramsci, you'll eat it up. It also deals with issues that are virtually universal among young women growing up all over the world. The book deals with frankly and insightfully with the challenges that teenage girls face as they grow into women, sexual, intellectual and political. It's feminist writing that doesn't wave any banners or slogans or propose any easy answers; it presents us face to face with the real challenges. Finally, I think Lila is one of the greatest heroines I have ever encountered, I love her every step of the way. It's all so personal and heart-felt, it's hard not to believe that much of it is based on the anonymous writer's own life. After all, the narrator is named Elena, and becomes a writer. But don't let the hype over the author's identity distract you: read these wonderful books for their own merits.