Poignant, intense and beautifully written, My Brilliant Friend is written by Italian author Elena Ferrante. First published in 2012, it has been translated by Ann Goldstein.
Set in a neighbourhood in Naples in the 1950s, My Brilliant Friend is one of the most accurate portrayals of friendship I’ve ever read. While the prose itself is quite simple and easy to read, the descriptions of the characters, the neighbourhood and the city are beautifully rich and I was gripped from the moment I started reading.
The protagonist of the novel, Elena Greco, immerses you in her childhood with her best friend Lina, her friendships and school, and through the pains and pangs of adolescence and first loves. The relationship between Elena and Lina is extremely powerful and meticulously written, one of the most accurate descriptions of young female friendship I’ve ever read.
The way in which the neighbourhood and the city is described is brutally honest. I didn’t know much about Italy in the 1950s and some of the novel did shock me.
I was so pleased when I realised the novel was the first in a series of four books, I’ve already started on the second – and it’s extra satisfying when I won’t have to wait for the next book – I’m all about instant gratification!
I’d strongly recommend this book – I started reading it on holiday which was perfect as I had the time sit and properly enjoy it, it’s definitely one of those novels you can lose track of time with because you just need to know what’s going to happen.