The New Yorker: "artfully written and absorbing"
Date: Nov 18 2013
The second novel in the author's Neapolitan series is a story about ambition and the complexities of friendship. In Naples in the nineteen-sixties, the narrator, Elena, and her wild, brilliant friend Lila are two working-class young women. While Elena spends her days reading books, hoping to further her schooling, the newly married Lila has renounced study for a life of financial security. Despite shared affection, each comes to envy the other's perceived freedom and bravery. The book is artfully written and absorbing, and its narrative explores varying routes to happiness, loneliness as the price of independence, and the ultimate power of education. "Words," Elena thinks, "with them you can do and undo as you please."