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Neapolitan Books In Order

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Publication Order of Neapolitan Books

My Brilliant Friend (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Story of a New Name (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Story of the Lost Child (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

Neapolitan is a 4 part series of novels from Elena Ferrante; an Italian author from Naples. Elena is a very private author and in fact, no one knows the true identity of the anonymous writer. It is thought that she is female, but no-one really knows for sure; Elena is just used as the pen-name.

Elena has enjoyed huge success with her novels, of which there are only a handful and the Neapolitan series is no different. The series was translated from Italian to English by Ann Goldstein and there are four books within the series. The author has been reported as saying that it is in fact just one novel but due to the length, it had to be split into a series.

The fourth book in the series, The Story of the Lost Child was released in 2015 and was listed in the top 10 Best Books of 2015 in the New York Times, as well as being nominated for the Strega Prize.

My Brilliant Friend

The series kicks off with ‘My Brilliant Friend’, which introduces the story and the characters. The story of the first novel is centred on two main characters, Elena and Lila who are around six years old. The book takes place in Naples in Italy and is an insightful fiction novel which really ventures into the complexities of friendships, even from a very young age. Elena and Lila are both living in the 1970’s, in a time when the neighbourhood is still learning to cope with the aftermath of the war and living in a time of poverty. The story quite precisely depicts the way the girls need to cope with a damaged upbringing due to the way the adults around them behave, at a time of extreme political and economic developments.

Without giving too much away, there are definitely some ‘interesting’ characters to be found throughout the novel, some of which are far from straight laced. The book has proved to be a popular read due to the fact that it is easy to relate to. The author really defines the friendship between the two girls and how much they rely on each other. It is done so in a way which makes the reader thirsty to find out more. Not only this, but the author also manages to give the reader an understanding of the conditions faced during those difficult times, including domestic violence and class conflict, even if the reader has had no direct experience of these types of conditions.

My Brilliant Friend is simply the beginning of the story, which shows the journey the two children take as they grow into adults. The follow up novel and second in the Neapolitan series is The Story of a New Name.

The Story of a New Name

Time has passed and the two girls are now in their twenties for the follow up novel, The Story of a New Name. It is also set in Naples and continues to delve into the relationship between the friends and all the ups and downs which go with any friendship. The girls have been through an extraordinarily difficult upbringing; one which no one could really understand unless they’d been through it themselves. It is no wonder then that the girls have grown up into troubled adults. A common trait in friendships between young girls is jealousy and through reading this book, many females can probably relate to a lot of the jealousy which goes on between Elena and Lila. Elena and Lila strive to be the better writer and often feel that the other one is steal their limelight. The jealousy between the pair can be so ferocious at times that it can actually create a massive wedge between them.

As people grow up, they tend to want different things and this is very much the case with the friendship between Lila and Elena, who have conflicting ideas of what they want their lives to look like. One choose the more traditional route, while the other takes on a more free spirited view and goes on a path of self-discovery. The second book is filled with romance, betrayal, frustration, jealousy and a whole heap of other feelings which most people can relate to.

You can expect a lot more twists and tales in the other two books which follow up from My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name. The next two in the sequence are Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay and The Story of the Lost Child, which has enjoyed a lot of success since its publication. The girl’s lives go off on different directions and ultimately, it causes their friendship to become disbanded. As the story progresses, they two reunite, but this also comes with its fair share of challenges.

You can pretty much guarantee that if you start reading ‘My Brilliant Friend’, you will be eager to get through the rest and find out what happens. The mysterious Elena Ferrante writes in such a warm hearted but natural way that you can’t help but become involved with the characters. You will probably find that you more natural relate to one over the other, but the story in itself, has plenty of parts which most people will be able to associate with.

There have been no details yet as to whether the series will eventually be made into a film, although there is of course speculation, since two of Ferrante’s other novels have followed this route; Troubling Love and The Days of Abandonment. One thing’s for sure though, if it does, it is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit.

Whether male or female, it is worth giving the Neapolitan series a read, not only because the series was authored by one of the best autjors the world has ever known but because you need to find out for yourself why it was recognised in the New York Times!

Book Series In Order » Characters » Neapolitan

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