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Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

(L'amica geniale #3)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  89,919 ratings  ·  5,495 reviews
In this third Neapolitan novel, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; she has left her abusive husband and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which have opened the doors to a ...more
Paperback, 418 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Europa Editions (first published October 30th 2013)
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Guillermo Arbe Hi Helen.
The books (I'm halfway through book four) have helped me understand my wife more, I think (not sure yet if she would agree). Especially in te…more
Hi Helen.
The books (I'm halfway through book four) have helped me understand my wife more, I think (not sure yet if she would agree). Especially in terms of mood changes and interpreting, re-interpreting and re-re-interpreting the acts and words of others. The book ratifies that men and women see things differently. I suspected as much, but I was never able so clearly to see the issue from a woman's perspective before reading Ferrante. I was struck by how Elena Greco described how difficult it is to be authentic in one's womanhood and succeed in the male dominated world. Even the social definition of womanhood itself is from the male perspective and imposed on woman, and yet, as Greco says, "no man can know what it feels like to be in my body, a woman's body". It opened up my eyes and made me wonder.(less)
lixy Yes. It's a slow burn with Ferrante. It starts slow and enclosed with the 2 little girls in their constrained miserable life (can be hard to read, and…moreYes. It's a slow burn with Ferrante. It starts slow and enclosed with the 2 little girls in their constrained miserable life (can be hard to read, and seem tedious to get into, but is utterly engrossing in itself) but as they and the story expands outwards to other characters the payoff for having been through every detail of their psychological foundations and the underpinnings of their complex relationship becomes immeasurably more powerful and explosive.(less)

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Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book left me speechless.

I've spent the last few weeks reading Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, and I have grown increasingly attached to her two main characters, Elena and Lila. These women are so well-drawn and seem so real that I was anxious about what will happen to them. When I finished this book last night — on the edge of my seat, by the way, because there was yet another dramatic ending — I was so unsteady that I had to rest a moment, pondering the fates of the women.

I refuse to spoil a
Violet wells
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy, 21st-century
I finished this today, the day Elena Ferrante’s identity has reportedly been revealed. I confess I feel a bit guilty now because while reading this there were several times I found myself wishing I knew how much was fiction and how much autobiography. I wondered this because it struck me that when Lila disappears from the pages so too does the electric charge Ferrante’s writing has. Ferrante writes well about Elena’s initiation into university life, the Milan literati, Italian political unrest, ...more


Okay, I've calmed down enough to write a review (more like a "review") so that I can move on to the next book. This installment was the most frustrating one to read thus far. It feels disjointed and the entire middle of the book is sloooooow. It's hard to tell if this is an artistic choice - does the reader have to experience the same sort of ennui that Elena does as a new mother? if so, are hundreds of pages appropriate? - or if the story simply drags
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
4.5 stars Review to come. But obviously it was great.
Ok, now that I've had time to come up with some thoughts--though, no promises that they will be coherent--I can attempt to write a review of this one. Like the 2 preceding novels in the Neapolitan novels series by the fabulous Elena Ferrante, this one is quite hard to rate on its own. The stories are so dependent on one another, and Ferrante so excellently doles out information that your reading of 1 book in the series seriously affects you
[From Le nouveau nom]

I wrote and rewrote my review of Elena Ferrante's third volume, but each version I produced seemed stupider than the last; empty words, tired formulas, a well-crafted and earnest nullity of expression. In the end, although I had promised myself I would not do so, I emailed the draft to my friend and asked for her advice. An hour later, she skyped me back.

"So what do you expect me to do?" she asked. She seemed to be in a particularly bad mood. "You're the reviewer. You un
Julie Christine
”Each of us narrates our life as it suits us.” ~Lila Cerullo

Mount Vesuvius simmers on the edges of Naples, a dragon in slumber, a metaphor for the rumbling, teeming city that erupts in violence without warning. The view of the volcano's hulking presence, seen through the windows of an upscale apartment, serves as proof that one has risen above the squalor of “the neighborhood” to arrive in the loftier heights. But no amount of money or education can sand away the rough resentments of those raise
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finally getting back to this series. I thoroughly enjoyed books one and two by Ferrante. But I waited to get to book three. I started this series via audio and wanted to finish them all via audio. Oddly, my library only had books 1, 2, and 4 in audio. So I waited for them to get it. But the main reason I waited.....I dread seeing the end of this absolutely amazing story!

Again we are drawn into the lives of Elena and Lila. This book picks up immediately where book 2 left off, though they all do t
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Each book in the Neapolitan series has its different delights. In Volume One, My Brilliant Friend, it was childhood, education and ambition. In Volume Two, The Story of a New Name, the zombie-like mindlessness of youthful sexual awakening. Here, its wealth and poverty and the irrationality of lovers.

Author Ferrante shows us why Communism was embraced by so many hardworking Italians. Her tale may be beholden to Ignazio Silone, yet it gives one a compelling understanding of the hopes and dreams th
"Become… I wanted to become, even though I had never known what. And I had become, that was certain, but without an object, without a real passion, without a determined ambition. I had wanted to become something – here was the point – only because I was afraid that Lila would become someone and I would stay behind. My becoming was a becoming in her wake. I had to start again to become, but for myself, as an adult, outside of her."

I finished this third book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series t
Michael Finocchiaro
I am barreling through Ferrante books and loving them. In book 3, Elena and Lila are now in their 20s and 30s and still living parallel and occasionally intersecting lives with mariage, lovers, kids, and lots of self-questioning. There is not one particular aspect or scene that comes to mind, but the overall impression of a very Proustian inspired look at the varying fates of these two women and how much they are changed (and unchanged) by the society that is changing around them. The secondary ...more
Claire Melanie
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was pretty readable and I'm curious to find out what happens to the characters after having read the two previous books in this series but there are literally no likeable characters at all. They're all such insufferable self obsessed arseholes who are hideous to each other and completely self involved. Really weird. I guess I'll read the last one cause this one certainly ended on a cliffhanger.
Elyse  Walters
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Elena is married, living in Florence with a husband she fights with often.
They have two daughters.....making her life even more complicated. Choices need to be made. Will she leave....or will she stay? And regardless of her choice--what else has to happen? For her? Her children? Husband? Is being happy with yourself dependent on if you stay OR leave?
Basically- Elena is not content as a Betty Crocker type domestic-woman.
She spends a great amount of time evaluating her every move, her every thou
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the beginning, the reading of Ferrante has been a visceral experience. Yet, reading her standalone novels first did not prepare for me for what a hyperrealistic fever dream these Neapolitan Novels have been. Unlike hyperrealistic works of visual art where what is underneath proves that the picture is not real, what is underneath here seems all too real. Upon finishing this installment I even felt guilty, as if I were complicit in the character's decisions.

The narrator's scholarly work on ma
Series described as, inter alia, Passionate, Vicious, Intimate, Sweeping, Challenging, Flummoxing, Ferocious, High Stakes, Subversive and Blisteringly Good on Bad Sex
If you've not started reading them, WHY NOT?

Neapolitan actress Valeria Golino [Hot, Hot, Hot]

The 3d of the "Neapolitan Novels" tetralogy by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante (a pseudonym). Ms. Ferrante says she considers the four volumes to constitute one novel. Instead of giving an overall description of the books again, I'll jus
Francesca Marciano
Reading Elena Ferrante's trilogy has been a marathon of never ending awe. I'm still electrified from reading the last volume. Lila and lena will stay with me for a very very long time. Pleease read "My Brilliant Friend" trilogy and keep in mind that it gets better and better and better and better as you turn each page.
Em Lost In Books
How did things got this messy and dirtier?
I am completely and utterly spellbound, bewitched. Each novel in the series is getting me more hooked.

Again, where do I start? I'll just write a few thoughts.

It's the 70s. Elena is married to her university boyfriend, who's now a Professor and a very dull individual. Ferrante is brilliant at conveying the loneliness of domesticity. The conflict between loving your family and wanting to be there for them and the mind-numbness of the constant chores. Even the sex is a chore. Elena is disappointed
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Political turmoil rages through the Italian landscape when Elena finally gets married to her professor, Pietro Airota, and Lila has settled down living with Enzo. Their worlds are a million miles apart as far as the two different lifestyles they have chosen is concerned.

It doesn't take long for Elena to realize, what Lila could have told her anyway:
Marriage by now seemed to me an institution that, contrary to what one might think, stripped coitus of all humanity."
Years pass in which they do no
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Ferrante’s singularity is to make a glory of introspection and turn it into theatre. There’s a dark ardour present in her writing, and a thrilling physicality to her metaphors, boldly translated by Ann Goldstein. She speaks of “the anxious pleasure of violence”, of desire feeling “like a drop of rain in a spiderweb”. Her charting of the rivalries and sheer inscrutability of female friendship is raw. This is high-stakes, subversive literature."
Catherine Taylor for The Telegraph

A theatre of intro
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I give up. Elena Ferrante and I are not simpatico. I have this novel- I'm skimming- I'm dreading the wordiness, the limbo, the chatter of the novel. They are simply grim books, filled with agony after agony in detail. Life is tough enough but to have to expose myself to the microscopic examination of lives which never seem joyful, the minutiae of the mundane, the scrutiny of unfulfilled lives- I give up. Those who love these books- go for them. We all have choices. These aren't mine. Bye, Elena.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019
This author certainly knows how to write a family saga. She just drags you in, fascinates you with details and leaves you, 418 pages later, with your mouth hanging open in amazement. Of course you have to rush out and get book four immediately. This despite the fact that most of the characters are not very nice people.

All of the books are built upon the unusual bond between Lila and Lenu which is much more than just a friendship. Lenu appears to have escaped her small town upbringing and has mo
Originally published on my blog, ShouldaCouldaWoulda Books.

Hello and welcome back to the third edition of Kelly Freaks Out Over Elena Ferrante Theater!

I hope that you didn’t come in here with the expectation that this was going to be the time that I got disillusioned with Elena, did you? Because that seems unlikely to happen. Ever. At least not with these Neapolitan novels. These things are like crack brownie ice cream pot (insert more adjectives that indicate addiction and deliciousness here) s
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, italy, naples
In this book Lenù grows up, and suddenly Ferrante's meandering internal monologues swing into orbit around the twin poles of SEX and POLITICS. Perhaps this is why I found it more successful than the first two – the experiences of 60s student politics, the fight for workers' rights, Elena's gradual feminist awakening, all embed the neighbourhood of the earlier novels satisfyingly into a larger context, while her tangled relationships seemed more meaningful to me than the stuff she was worrying ab ...more
4.25 stars

Part three of the Neapolitan series. It's a continuation of the ever fascinating lives of the girls from the neighbourhood, Lila and Lenu. Their evolution and their friendship, still complex, is still compelling.

While reading this, I had some thoughts:

1) Amid all the fighting and drama (of which there is a never-ending supply), NO ONE seems to be having good sex!
2) Lila is so unlikeable, about 99.9% of the time. I have a hard time understanding why Lenu hangs onto her. Some of the thin
Helene Jeppesen
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This third book in The Neapolitan Novels was just as good as the other two. I think what is the most interesting about this series is to see how the two protagonists, Elena and Lila, grow up and develop from children to adults. In this book, it becomes clear that they develop in different ways and create a distance in their friendship, but still the tense dynamics between them was maintained.
I'm pretty eager to read the last book in this series and see how everything ends :)
YOU GUYS!!! i am currently having major angst. i somehow managed to totally miss the fact that there will be a 4th book in this series.... and that it does not come out until september, 2015. (i stay away from reviews until i have had a chance to read a book (books) for myself.) so while this series was all over my radar, i did not know too much about the books at all. so now... i have to wait to find out where this is all going. i am really at loose ends here. and a little twitchy.

anyway... my
Ms. Smartarse
It's now Lenu's time to successfully climb out of the dreaded neighborhood. Having published her first novel, about to be married to the son of a famous university professor, and starting anew in Florence, what else could our heroine possibly wish for? Apparently, nothing that can't be fixed by putting some distance between her and the neighborhood.

Florence, Italy

... but Lenu finds that the world keeps moving at breakneck speed. She needs to build a career, have an opinion about the student protests, and also
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it
After reading over 1000 pages in this trilogy, I am unable to find even one sympathetic character. They are just a self-absorbed bunch consumed by petty jealousies and strange alliances.

I had real sympathy for the two main characters when they were very bright children living in a dangerous, poverty filled neighborhood. (My Brilliant Friend).

I could even understand the poor decisions as teenagers. It was fun to read about their successes as adults (Story of a New Name).

But, once they grew up
I love Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, of which Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay is the third volume. This one is as wonderful as the first, My Brilliant Friend. I also loved the second volume, The Story of a New Name, but maybe a little less than the first, with the friends Lila and Elena (our narrator) as children and then teenagers. In The Story of a New Name, we follow Elena as she leaves the violent, impoverished neighborhood of her childhood, going to university and then becoming a p ...more
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Madison County NC...: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay 1 2 Sep 02, 2020 11:39AM  
Why does Lenu think Lina and her are equal partners? 1 12 Jun 01, 2020 06:23PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add/remove information 1 10 Feb 12, 2020 10:28AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book Title 2 34 Apr 22, 2017 03:16PM  
Who is Elena Ferrante 4 95 Oct 08, 2016 05:15AM  
SPOILER: If you had only one choice 4 172 May 19, 2015 08:06AM  

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Elena Ferrante is a pseudonymous Italian novelist. Ferrante's books, originally published in Italian, have been translated into many languages. Her four-book series of Neapolitan Novels are her most widely known works.

Other books in the series

L'amica geniale (4 books)
  • My Brilliant Friend
  • The Story of a New Name
  • The Story of the Lost Child

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