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[Read by Hillary Huber]
Against the backdrop of a Naples that is as seductive as it is perilous, the story of a lifelong friendship is told with unmatched honesty and brilliance. The four volumes in this series constitute a long, remarkable story that listeners will return to again and again, and every return will bring with it new revelations.
''Nothing quite like this has ever been published before,'' proclaimed the Guardian about the Neapolitan Novels in 2014. The first book in the series, My Brilliant Friend, was a New York Times bestseller. Book three was a Times bestseller and a Notable Book of the Year. It was named a best book of 2014 twenty-five times, including in the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, the San Francisco Chronicle, Slate, the Daily Beast, the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, and the Boston Globe. This final installment in the series gives validation to the New York Times Book Review's opinion of its author, Elena Ferrante, as ''one of the great novelists of our time.''
Here is the dazzling saga of two women: the brilliant, bookish Elena and the fiery, uncontainable Lila. Both are now adults; many of life's great discoveries have been made, its vagaries and losses have been suffered. Through it all, the women's friendship has remained the gravitational center of their lives. Both women once fought to escape the neighborhood in which they grew up -- a prison of conformity, violence, and inviolable taboos. Elena married, moved to Florence, started a family, and published several well-received novels. In this final book, she has returned to Naples. Lila, on the other hand, never succeeded in freeing herself from the city of her birth. She has become a successful entrepreneur, but her success draws her into closer proximity to the nepotism, chauvinism, and criminal violence that infect her neighborhood. Nearness to the world she has always rejected only brings her role as its unacknowledged leader into relief. For Lila is unstoppable, unmanageable, and unforgettable.
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An Amazon Best Book of September 2015: Elena Ferrante has been an under-the-radar phenomenon for a couple of years now: the pseudonymous, publicity-shunning Italian author of Days of Abandonment – one of my favorite novels of all time – and the three (until now) Neapolitan Novels is the go-to read for thoughtful, analytical women on at least two continents. But if the first three books made her a cult here, The Story of the Lost Child, the final volume of the Neapolitan books, is poised to make her a bona fide star.
Such widespread acceptance and popularity is only fitting, since the characters in the Neapolitan novels are not “fancy” women; they’re for the most part not particularly educated, rich or sophisticated. What they are, always, is full of life and self-doubt and self-consciousness and ambition and love and hate and energy and sexuality. The new book, like the others, centers around the lifelong relationship between Elena and Lina – frenemies from long before such a word existed. The Story of the Lost Child chronicles what happens when the women renew their friendship after many years of estrangement; “One morning, I woke up and thought of her without hostility for the first time in a long while,” as Elena says. Now they are beginning to face aging together.
That’s the plot here, and it is essentially the plot of all of the Neapolitan novels: how do women grow and age, together and apart, how do they relate, how do motherhood, money and men intervene? But you don’t read Ferrante for the plot; you read her for the sheer accumulation of detailed scenes and conversations, for its comings together and breakings apart, and for the way characters disappear and recur until the city in which they live becomes both a vast jungle and the original too-close small town. (Bonus: while it’s probably best to read all four of these novels in the order in which they were published, you can come to book 4 fresh and get up to speed within pages.) Along the way, you also get a glimpse into the politics of 20th century Italy and some sly understanding of the publishing world. (Elena is a published author of some success.) Reading Ferrante is, in other words, both exhausting and exhilarating. The other day, an acquaintance said she loved these books so much she felt like standing on a street corner and handing them out to every woman she sees. I know the feeling. – Sara NelsonAbout the Author:
Elena Ferrante, author of The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and My Brilliant Friend, among others, is one of Italy's most important and acclaimed contemporary writers. Her true identity is unknown.
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Book Description Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2015. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1504630114