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The Story of the Lost Child

(L'amica geniale #4)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  53,377 ratings  ·  4,426 reviews
Here is the dazzling saga of two women, the brilliant, bookish Elena and the fiery, uncontainable Lila. Both are now adults; 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—
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Europa Editions (first published October 29th 2014)
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JDimichele I don't think Elena was always trustworthy. Although a complicated relationship, throughout their lives each one let the other down and each one was…moreI don't think Elena was always trustworthy. Although a complicated relationship, throughout their lives each one let the other down and each one was there for the other at other times.
After much thought, (this being such a feminist book) maybe Elena and Lila are two parts of what makes one woman whole. Each had things that the other lacked. When they didn't need it, they didn't see each other for long periods of time.(less)

Community Reviews

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4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  53,377 ratings  ·  4,426 reviews

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Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This novel nearly broke me.

The Story of the Lost Child is beautifully heartbreaking. It is the culmination of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan series, and it wraps up the story of two friends, Elena and Lila. I spent my summer with these two women. I read the first book, My Brilliant Friend, just to see what all the Ferrante Fever fuss was about, and I didn't expect to read any more of the series. But I ended up intrigued and wanting more, and I gobbled up Books 2 and 3 as quickly as I could.

In this
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After re-reading this series, I can confirm it's one of my all-time favorites. Ferrante is a writer I admire so much, and like I said in my original reviews, one that I know confidently I can, and will, read again and again throughout my life.

Original Review:
I'm done. I'm actually done. The journey is over, and what a wonderful journey it was. Maybe soon I will be able to write a better review, but for now I can only say that this series is truly unlike anything I've read. It's a modern maste
Julie Christine
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land

Lost in a Roman...wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah

~The Doors, "The End"

Nothing about th
Violet wells
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves, italy, 21st-century
I’ve never read a series before. Finally I understand why people sleep outside bookstores the day before the next instalment is due to be published. Were there to be a book five I might well zipper myself inside a bag outside Feltrinelli the night before release. Except there will be no next instalment here. I’m done. Lila has left my life and I will never know anything more about her. I feel horribly bereft.

Book Four has less of a feel of fictional memoir about it; it reads more like a novel.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, italian

Slum, Naples, Italy, 1947

In reading the 'Neapolitan series' of Elena Ferrante, I am constantly reminded of the clear influence of 19th-century realism - description of ordinary or familiar events as they are, with digressions into political events or societal norms to fill in the background. But the ordinary or real does not mean the banal.

One could reasonably say that this is series of war novels. It speaks without bombast or pretensions, and describes, with precise and subtle prose, a war of
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiana

Diventare amiche: …mi diede la mano. Questo gesto cambiò tutto tra noi per sempre.

Per il primo paio di pagine ho fatto un po’ fatica a riannodare il filo: benché il racconto riprenda esattamente dal punto dove era stato interrotto la volta precedente, alla fine del terzo romanzo, Storia di chi parte e di chi resta, è comunque passato un anno da allora.
Ma è stata una sensazione di breve durata: in poco tempo Elena Ferrante mi ha preso e portato via, mi ha trascinato con sé, al
Michael Finocchiaro
I can't believe it's over! I mean really, after finishing Ferrante's riveting tetralogy, I feel a sense of loss. The fourth volume was fast-paced and full of reveals (no spoilers!). It was hard to read at several points, but always entertaining and thought provoking. If you have not read it yet, please do so this year. Definitely a journey to Naples that you do not want to miss.

One thing that struck me with this series is the similarities and differences with another classic
Francesca Marciano
There is a terrible sense of loss once you reach the last line of the last volume of Ferrante's saga, her writing is so addictive, it has kept me company for over a year now and waiting for the next installment of the story has been a delightful suspense.I feel abandoned to my own device now that the curtain fell on this wonderful story. The last volume "La bambina Perduta" has just been published in Italy,so I've devoured it in three days and it's not a disappointment. It has a somehow slow sta ...more
Elyse Walters
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Book Four....The Final Conclusion to the Neapolitan novels:

And so this story begins.....-[page 1]:
"From October 1976 until 1979, when I returned to Naples to live, I avoided resuming a steady relationship with Lila. But it wasn't easy. She almost immediately tried to reenter my life by force, and I ignored her, tolerated her, endured her. Even if she acted as if there were nothing she wanted more than to be close to me at a difficult moment, I couldn't forget the contempt with which she had trea
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, italy, naples

The tunnel on the edge of the neighbourhood, beyond which Lila couldn't pass.

When I arrived in Naples I had just read the Claudio Gatti article which claimed to expose Elena Ferrante's real identity. I remembered being amazed, when it had come out back in 2016, by the fury it had provoked. People were outraged! Not just readers but literary editors too had lined up to condemn the piece – putting across, in the process, a lot of wrong-headed ideas about ‘the death of the author’ which should real
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
What can I say about this book that has yet to be said. This is the fourth and final book in The Neapolitan Novels. It is the culmination of the lifetime of two dominate, strong women. It is the story of one lost child and the impact it has on so many lives. But it's also so much more. It is the final story of many of the characters that lived in this town and came in and out of Lila and Elena lives.

I'm not sure how to feel about this one. On one hand, I'm happy to hear more of the story of thes
[From Celle qui fuit et celle qui reste]

Whenever you read a book that the author seriously cared about, you realise after a while that in fact it's two books: there's the book that got written, the one you're holding in your hands, and there's the other book, the one the author wanted to write but couldn't, due to the problems inherent in being a mortal human being. Sometimes the distance between the two books is close enough that you can believe they're the same. (I don't know how one would i
Ilenia Zodiaco
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiana
Posso esimermi dal dare un commento lucido e ragionato? Ho appena chiuso il volume. Ciò che sento è di aver lasciato una storia cattiva, smarginata, insalubre. È stato come guardare un pozzo nero, con qualche riflesso di luce appena che però mi ha abbagliato.
3.5 stars

"I’ve been writing for too long, and I’m tired; it’s more and more difficult to keep the thread of the story taut within the chaos of the years, of events large and small, of moods. So either I tend to pass over my own affairs to recapture Lila and all the complications she brings with her or, worse, I let myself be carried away by the events of my life, only because it’s easier to write them."

Gosh, relationships - particularly those of the ‘girlfriends’ variety - are quite complex, are
This review originally appeared on my blog, ShouldaCouldaWoulda Books.

I’ve been writing for too long, and I’m tired; it’s more and more difficult to keep the thread of the story taut within the chaos of the years, of events large and small, of moods…What to do then? Admit yet again that she is right? Accept that to be adult is to disappear, is to learn to hide to the point of vanishing?

It’s been a few weeks, but I’m finally able to deal with this. This is the last novel in Elena Ferrante’s celeb
Brilliant, though I'm feeling a bit bereft now. Better review to follow, but for now I'll just say that this has been a year of great reads for me, highlighted boldly by Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels. Read them, trust me.
Find more reviews and bookish fun at
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
After reading all four books in the series, I am still unsure whether this is a fictional memoir, or a story based on the truth. It probably is a little of both. There is a showcase full of people involved: the Grecos, Cerullos, Carraccis, Pelusos, Sarratores , and the path of tragedy and heartbreak is as difficult as it can get for all of them, no matter how well veneered their lives seemed to be.

Lila and Elena completed their journey in this final book in the series. The first book started out
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-italia, 5e
No jornal Público há um texto intitulado O Pêndulo Ferrante no qual várias pessoas falam sobre A Amiga Genial. Uns dizem bem, outros dizem mal. É normal...
Do longo artigo retirei a penúltima frase, de António Lobo Antunes: ("...enquanto lia pedaços de página, sem ordem, para trás e para a frente):
- Não é má. Estava agora a ver. Não é má, é o que posso dizer.
Se um homem (genial), que diz, quase sempre, mal dos outros escritores, afirma que Ferrante não é má, poderemos deduzir que é muito boa? Eu
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
No meager summary I might give here can conjure the astonishing ferocity of these books—unabated over four volumes. If you read closely there are some aphorisms buried here. One that struck me particularly hard: “A woman without love for her origins is lost.” But there are other home truths as well: “Love and sex are unreasonable and brutal.” and “It was a good rule not to expect the ideal but to enjoy what is possible.” and “How many words remain unsayable even between a couple in love?” Most m ...more
Justin Evans
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This is a two part review of the Neapolitan Novels as a whole: one about how good they are, the other about the series' very deep flaws. The other review, about how good they are can be found here.

I am, I realize, pissing into the wind here, but someone has to do it. Ferrante deserves much of the praise, but, like any serious author, she also deserves criticism, because these are some deeply, deeply flawed novels.

In Story of the Lost Child, Elena publishes an MS that she'd written some years be
Doug Bradshaw
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I want to thank Elena Ferrante aka Lenu, for writing such an excellent and complete story of the lives of herself and her soulmate-crazy and brilliant best friend, Lila. The four books are chronological and start when the two girls are about 8 years old and continue into their sixties. I don't want to tell the story here but here are some of my observations about reading such a poignant, emotionally honest and complete story:

1. Life is hard and then you die. There is nothing easy about relations
Ola Al-Najres
يا معشر القراء : أوجدوا لنا حلاً في تلك الروايات التي تسكننا و نسكنها ، ثم تغادرنا و لا نستطيع مغادرتها ..

فهاتان الصديقتان المذهلتان ، المنسجمتان على الرغم من أنّ إحداهما نقيض الأخرى ، المتباعدتان في كل شيء و المتكاتفان في الآن ذاته ، اللتان (و على مدى أربع روايات) تتبعت حياتيهما من حيٍّ إلى حيّ و من مدينة إلى أخرى ....
أقول هاتين الصديقتين قد سدتا باب الحكاية خلفي و تركتاني أتجمد اغتراباً في صقيع الواقع .

بلا شك هذا الجزء هو الأكثف و الأعنف و الأغزر عاطفةً و أحداثاً ، فقد كنت أقرأ و أشعر أني ألهث
I am saying a very sad farewell to the Neapolitan Novels. To say that Lenu and Lila's story gripped me it would an understatement. I was consumed by these books. I have never read anything like this before. It's hard to put into words what I felt when listening to these books. The thing is these novels are not perfect. But all the good, scratch that, all the great things far outweigh their imperfections, uncannily, making the novels feel more authentic, more impactful.

These books will have a sp
Helene Jeppesen
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it
This fourth and final book in The Neapolitan Novels was good, but not as good as the other three novels. In this book, the narrator Elena becomes a lot more reflective, and the story is more about her children and their struggles than it is about Elena's and Lila's friendship. I liked how this implies that Elena is growing up and starting to care more about the people around her, but at the same time this book just didn't click as well with me as the other ones.
Another reason why I think this i
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Those who haven't enjoyed the first three books of this series will like this one even less; but that's irrelevant, isn't it: if they haven't made it this far, they're not likely to read this last installment. Upon starting it, I immediately thought of my brilliant friend Karen's review of Dept. of Speculation, which contrasted that slim novel with "blowsy baroque behemoths" and their "telling and telling and telling, spewing out words and more words and yet more words" -- yep that's the Neapoli ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italianos
(review in English below)

Um final brilhante para esta história! Em retrospectiva, acho que a tetralogia, no seu todo, merece bem as cinco estrelas!

Parece-me impossível que esta narrativa (refiro-me aos 4 volumes d' A Amiga Genial) não tenha uma parte autobiográfica substancial. Não vislumbro outra forma de produzir esta escrita que se nos impõe sem pedir licença, que se nos mete pelos olhos e pelo cérebro adentro sem querer saber se estamos a gostar da história, das personagens, da linguagem...
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italia, bib-l
"Só nos romances feios é que as pessoas pensam sempre a coisa certa, dizem sempre a coisa certa, cada efeito tem a sua causa, há os simpáticos e os antipáticos, os bons e os maus, e no fim tudo te consola."

Não, não é um romance feio; é um livro de uma honestidade cruel, é um livro que nos fala de uma amizade magnífica e tenebrosa, de rivalidade e competição, de gente pobre, gente rica, gente corrupta, gente corajosa, de uma cidade onde reina a miséria física e moral, de um país a braços
Ms. Smartarse
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ms. Smartarse by: Manny
They said there would be sadness and pain. Yet I doubted.
They said this would be the best of 'em all. Yet I stalled.
They said I would be crying. Yet I was unconvinced.

All in all, I was doing great in my quest to overcome even the tiniest bit of susceptibility to peer pressure. But then Manny had to go all logical on me, so I gave in... in less than 5 minutes.

I don't need this

Sssso about The Story of the Lost Child...

Lenu gives up her comfy but unhappy life, for a difficult and miserable one. While she does occas
So ends the final part of the Neapolitan series in which I have been immersed, one after the other. I feel I have lived alongside Lena and Lenu, have experienced their many trials and tribulations, have gazed up at Mt Vesuvius and heard the clatter of the neighbourhood. And now it is over! I wonder if I will ever read another epic story of friendship and rivalry that will compare.

I enjoyed it just for the story's sake - as in, what will happen NEXT? But I also enjoyed its self-reflective and cer
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was truly an exceptional series of novels. It’s not until the conclusion that you can really appreciate what has been put to paper. Much more than a simple story of two parallel lives, the Neapolitan novels present a depiction of life not in isolation, but as something deeply intertwined, with each interaction becoming at once cause and effect within a complex web, the pieces reacting almost chemically to produce repeating structures across generations. The interesting thing about this stor ...more
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Elena Ferrante is a pseudonymous Italian novelist.

Ferrante is the author of a half dozen novels, including The Lost Daughter (originally published as La figlia oscura, 2006).

In 2012, Europa Editions began publication of English translations of Ferrante's "Neapolitan Novels," a series about two perceptive and intelligent girls from Naples who try to create lives for themselves within a violent and

Other books in the series

L'amica geniale (4 books)
  • My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)
  • The Story of a New Name (The Neapolitan Novels, #2)
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels, #3)
“In what disorder we lived, how many fragments of ourselves were scattered, as if to live were to explode into splinters.” 62 likes
“Unlike stories, real life, when it has passed, inclines toward obscurity, not clarity.” 50 likes
More quotes…