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Book Review of My Brilliant Friend

by Lakshmi Menon
(Bangalore, India)

Book: My Brilliant Friend

Author: Elena Ferrante

"My Brilliant Friend" is the story of friendship and rivalry of two Italian women - Lila and Elena, in 1950s, in a small town in Naples in Italy.

When Elena gets the news that her friend Lila is missing, she recalls her childhood days, by telling about their friendship through this book, written in a lucid style. They grew up together in a small town following world war II, in an economically deprived community. One of them (the author) prefers school to home and completes her high school successfully. Her friend Lila, who is the daughter of a shoe-maker, was stopped her studies by her father, but still she manages to study on her own by borrowing books from the libraries. She is more brilliant and her brilliance fascinates her friend Elena. The book also tells the stories of their neighbourhood families.

All themes, styles and stories may not interest all readers. So this book is also not for everyone. It is not written in the usual story writing style, but still it captures the hearts of many. Some people may not like the lucid style of writing and the story itself. I was also not enjoying in the beginning, but as I continued it arrested my attention and found it so real and touching life stories of the working class, although it took a while to get to know the characters well. This powerful and heartrending novel also gives a vivid picture of Italian culture on post war days.

It is a work of series, and "My Brilliant Friend" is the Book 1 in the series of Neapolitan Novels. There are 3 more books in this series.

The book is available at

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