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Elena Ferrante Books In Order

Publication Order of Neapolitan Novels

My Brilliant Friend (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Story of a New Name (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Story of the Lost Child (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Days of Abandonment (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Troubling Love (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Lost Daughter (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Picture Books

The Beach at Night (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


There is more than an air of mystery surrounding the true identity of Elena Ferrante, who has used this pen name on her novels to date, never revealing the true person behind the writing.

What we do know, however, is that ‘Elena’ is Italian and certain things she has written to journalists appear to signify that she is most probably female and perhaps even a mother. Elena is an important novelist of the Italian generation and last year she even featured on the prestigious New York Times, top 10 Best Books of 2015 for The Story of the Lost Child, which is quite an accolade for any author. The Story of the Lost Child was also a nominee for the Strega Prize, which is an Italian literary award.

The true face behind the name may be reluctant to come forward, but it looks like her work is certainly doing the talking for her anyway.

Elena’s first novel, Troubling Love, was released in 1992. This was a psychological thriller which is based around a daughter trying to come to terms with the death of her mother. Although not particularly close to her mother, the death seems to be suspicious, leaving Delia (the daughter) to embark on a mesmerising journey from Rome to Naples, to find out more about what actually happened to her mother.

Perhaps the most influential of Ferrante’s novels is the 4 part series which consists of My Brilliant Friend (2012), The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014) and The Story of the Lost Child (2015.)

The series is based around the characters of Elena and Lila who are two young girls trying to survive in an impecunious part of Naples after the war. The introductory novel, My Brilliant Friend instantly grips the reader as it follow the friendship of the two girls and the different personalities which brings the book to life. Elena is the narrator of the novel and appears to be a clever girl who is no stranger to a bit of hard craft. Lina is also an intelligent girl with a lot of drive and determination and the characters of the two are captivating. With many stories having female characters who are perhaps more than a little introverted, the true spirit of the girls is what makes this such an inspirational read. The book also conveys a riveting account of living in a deprived area and how the two girls cope at a young age.

The story progresses over the series by delving further into the friendship, as the two girls grow into women. Each novel takes you into a different time in the girls’ lives, with the first being children, the second in their early 20s and their third mid 20’s to early 30’s and so on as the story unravels. The two have a strong friendship in the beginning, but go on to explore different paths in their lives, with Lila settling down and Elena continuing to find out more about herself and enjoying the journey as she does it. Sadly, their different paths eventually lead to the demise of their relationship, which is a storyline that many people can relate to.

However, The Story of the Lost Child is based around the women reuniting and how they manage to get their friendship back on track. Ultimately, the series of novels is based around friendships and all of the many challenges which come with them and how, when two people grow apart, they find a way to repair their damaged relationship. The novels have proved to be a hit with readers from all over the globe and most of this is down to the fact that the stories involve human relationships and feelings. People always like to read stories which they can really relate to and Elena seems to encapsulate this perfectly in her books.

Her first novel, Troubling Love was also made into a movie, entitled ‘Nasty Love’ or L’amore Molesto and was released in 1995, also featuring in Cannes Film Festival the same year. The story was also co-written by the director, Mario Martone and was mainly situated in Naples. The movie brought with it a lot of success, winning 3 David di Donatello Awards and a nomination at the Cannes Film Festival. The lead actress, Anna Bonaiuto also picked up a Silver Ribbon award for her performance in the movie.

Another of Elena’s novels which made it onto the big screen was The Days of Abandonment or l giorni dell’abbandono. The title remained the same and the film featured Margherita Buy and Luca Zingaretti. The story of The Days of Abandonment is about a wife and mother, who finds herself abandoned and destitute by her husband. It shows the challenges she has to overcome as she tried to life herself from the despair of the situation, so she can start to enjoy life again. This movie also enjoyed a fair bit of success, with five nominations; the David Di Donatello and Sindacato Nazionale Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani, both in 2006 and a nomination at the Venice Film Festival in 2005.

It is fair to say that despite Elena being a true mystery and the fact that she has only really published a handful of novels, she has enjoyed huge success, both through awards and nominations and the fact that two of her novels have made it into movies. Perhaps some of the appeal of her books is down to the fact that no one really knows how she is and could be a bit of clever marketing, rather than anything to do with the privacy of the author.

Either way, there are bound to be more novels to look forward to in the future from Elena, particularly with the success she enjoyed in 2005. We may even see more of her books being turned into movies in the future and perhaps some more nominations and awards will be coming her way. For now, we can contend with the fact that Elena Ferrante is an enigma and continue enjoying her work without worrying of her identity.

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