Brilliant!

At a Christmas Yankee Swap, I received the book, My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante.  What a brilliant gift that was!  I loved the book.  Oh, I have my complaints, i.e., I wish the author didn't have so many characters, I wish they weren't so mean, why did so and so do that, etc.  That's what makes the story so real.  It's so like life.

It's not so much that I identify with the setting, because how could I?  It's exactly what the author depicts is what I always pictured.  I know an order of priests that come from Italy.  In fact, many of these priests grew up in this setting.  That's where I'm coming from.  Also, many of these priests are priests because that was the only way they could further their education--to say they had a vocation.  So it confirmed my impression to see that Rino, Lila, Stefano, Pinuccio, Alfonso, Pasquale, Carmela, Ada, Antonio, Enzo, Marcello, Michele, Gigliola, etc. did not further their education beyond elementary school.

Didn't I tell you there were too many characters?  Additionally, add to the list of characters' names, their nicknames, etc., Raffaella is Lina except to Elena, who calls her Lila, and Elena who is Lenuccia except when called Lenu.  See I don't lie.  OK, I am known to exaggerate, but that's the storyteller's prerogative.

Even so, it's all these characters that make the story so interesting.  Lila is the girlfriend I've had at various times, in my life.  She's mean; she's generous; she's a victim; she's the antagonist--she's us.  And at times, I don't get Elena.  You'll find yourself talking (yelling) at her.  The author is brilliant. She somehow puts us in her story.  You are Lila; you are Lenu.  And this novel isn't chick-lit.  I think it's a perfect picture of post war Italy in the 1950's.  Ferrante has captured the spirit of the times.

Fortunately, it's the first novel, in a series of four.  And as soon as I post this review, I'm off to my volunteer job at the library.  Guess what I'll have a couple of my four eyes, on the lookout for.  

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