Yesterday was World Book Day. That, combined with the wonderful Primavera in Toscana set from 8f8 at The Arcade got me thinking about my favorite books of the past year. What rose to the top was Elena Ferrante’s magnificent Neapolitan novels. Now, the novels mainly take place in a poor neighborhood in Naples, not in a rich manor home in Tuscany, but know, we Americans are supposed to think there is no difference, right?
Actually, the wall reminds me so much of the wall surrounding the Spanish military base where I was living with a Spanish family while attending my senior year in Algeciras, Spain. The one difference is that the wall in Spain had flowers on the top, trailing down the white walls. There were always two guards outside with a sign “Todo por la patria” on the wall next to the guard station. Can you imagine an American military base with a wall covered with flowers?
John Freeman of The Australian wrote of Elena Ferrante, “Imagine if Jane Austen Got Angry.” The Neapolitan novels tell the story of two women, from their childhood to adulthood. There is a lot of anger in her novels, but also humor and love. They seem so raw and honest, as though the author cannibalized her life to tell the story, though we cannot know as Elena Ferrante is very private. Still, the narrator in this Neapolitan tetralogy is named Elena and plans to be a writer. In terms of the usual publicity authors relentlessly pursue, she said she did all she needed to do for her book, she wrote it. I love that!
Imagine if you are truly brilliant, imaginative, creative, gifted with the ability to succeed, but you’re a young girl in a poor family whose father thinks education is wasted on girls, who is unwilling to pay for high school? Imagine your anger and how you might act out in ways that cut off your other opportunities? Imagine your best friend is perhaps as smart, but less creative, less imaginative, but her family is willing to pay for her education? How does that effect your friendship? As these two girls mature and their bonds are strained by jealousy, change, marriage, education, careers and all the pressures of adulthood, the residence of their friendship is astonishing – even as it waxes and wanes. It seemed the most real friendship I have read about – mainly because sometimes it ended, then reignited, and disappeared and reappeared. Intense friendships can be like that.
I hope you go to your local library or your personal Kindle or independent bookstore and pick up My Brilliant Friend. It will draw you in and then you will have to read, The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay and whatever the name of the eagerly anticipated volume coming out in September. These books are wonderful!
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Location: Misc barrles, planters by =MF= (Kitare Rieko), we’re closed summer flowers and Botanicals’ mesh mediterranean cypress. 3D Trees big olive tree,
Many pieces from 8f8 Primavera in Toscana From The Arcade