The Story of a New Name
“[Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels] don’t merely offer a teeming vision of working-class Naples, with its cobblers and professors, communists and mobbed-up businessmen, womanizing poets and downtrodden wives; they present one of modern fiction’s richest portraits of a friendship.” -John Powers, Fresh Air, NPR
The second book, following 2012’s acclaimed My Brilliant Friend, featuring the two friends Lila and Elena. The two protagonists are now in their twenties. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila. Meanwhile, Elena continues her journey of self-discovery. The two young women share a complex and evolving bond that brings them close at times, and drives them apart at others. Each vacillates between hurtful disregard and profound love for the other. With this complicated and meticulously portrayed friendship at the center of their emotional lives, the two girls mature into women, paying the sometimes cruel price that this passage exacts.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
This is the second volume in the Neapolitan novels/trilogy. The first two novels are set in post-World War 2 Italy, in a poor neighbourhood just outside of Naples where families struggle with poverty, survival and age-old customs, and where there is little, if any, hope, only the daily struggle to survive. The saga focuses on the lives of two girls who are at once friends and competitors. Each is bright, intelligent and promising, but some of their choices will trap them in lives of seething anger, desperation and hopelessness. The setting may be geographically distinct, but as with all great works, the characters and their predicaments have universal appeal. Ferrante shows an evolving relationship between Elena and Lila in this second book and portrays poverty, anger, frustration, and the dreams and yearnings of two young women who have few opportunities to escape their current situations. In her tightly woven command of plot and language, Ferrante is brilliant, and she continues to prove herself to be a modern master.
Continuing the story from My Brilliant Friend, of Elena and Lila and their youth and early womanhood in 1960s Naples, Italy, Ferrante depicts the inner lives of her characters with intimacy and power.