Two girls live in Naples and

My Brilliant Friend - Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante

2016 UC Book Club Aug. Read

It is so great that the hype for this is well deserved.

And honestly, I really want to re-read (and watch) Gomorrah but the new Byatt arrived today with the Harry Potter play . . .

I don’t really know what more I can add to what people have said about this book, yet, I’m going to try.

The plot of the story is the lives of two girls Lena and Lila, who live in Naples. The story is set in motion though a framing device where Lila’s son discovers her to be missing, and Lena starts to record their friendship.

To be honest, for me, at least, the characters didn’t feel like they were able to walk off the page. The story is absorbing it is a great book, with a nice kicker of a subtle ending. A reader (or even a viewer of television or movie plots) has seen the characters before. Two friends where one seems to fulfill the dreams of the other. In fact, to call the plot familiar would not be wrong.

And yet.

There is an enough difference for the familiarity of the plot to not be a problem. That and the strength of the writing.

Two things stand out. One is the use or influence of fairy tales from the ogre figure to the character type of Cinderella. The Italian Cinderella of Basile that is, the one who dresses like strumpet. The other is the use of doubling. Lena and Lila might be friends, but I am not entirely convinced that they are two separate people. Undoubtedly I am wrong, but there is such a sense of two by two in the novel that even if the characters are simply shadows or parallel it is interesting. For instance, both girls get a bump in regards to their creativity in the same way.

In many ways, it also is about gender, so that’s cool too.