Evening Standard Magazines list #longreads: the supersized books of summer 2015.
Date: Aug 13 2015
The final instalment of Ferrante’s cult quartet of Neapolitan novels is out in a couple of weeks, giving latecomers just enough time to read the first three: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. It only takes a few chapters to be hooked by the story of Elena, the hyper-intelligent and observant writer who narrates the books, and her childhood friend Lila, equally intelligent but possessed of a natural wildness.
The other major character is Naples itself, pictured from the 1950s to the present day, its streets and beaches, neighbourhoods and bars brought vividly to life. In its environs — and periodically in flight from them — Elena and Lila live out their intense and gripping friendship from childhood to old age.
Ferrante’s novels have slowly built up a deeply committed readership, despite the fact that the author herself (or, possibly, himself) has remained strictly incognito. In Italy, speculation has long been rife, with high-profile authors occasionally having to issue flat denials that they are her/him. With the conclusion of the quartet, will Ferrante decide the time is finally ripe to break cover?