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The Neapolitan Novels

(L'amica geniale #1-4)

4.58  ·  Rating details ·  3,198 ratings  ·  232 reviews
Against the backdrop of a Naples that is as seductive as it is perilous and a world undergoing epochal change, Elena Ferrante tells the story of a sixty-year friendship between the brilliant and bookish Elena and the fiery, rebellious Lila with unmatched honesty and brilliance.
Kindle Edition, 1705 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Europa Editions
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Zhanna yes. it is a bildungsroman, the story follows the main character throughout her life

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Average rating 4.58  · 
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 ·  3,198 ratings  ·  232 reviews

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Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book(s) is a detailed map of life. It paints the roads and gorges that remain invisible to the eye. It captures the essence of existence in a way the I never could.

It is not about friendship. It is about the inexplicable bonds to places and faces. It is about how our parents live within us and how our children live outside of us. It is about the complex device that is one human being and the fleeting mass that all human beings are. It, ultimately, is about the meaning of every little thing
My Brilliant Friend ↠ 3 stars
The Story of a New Name ↠ 2 stars
Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay ↠ 2 stars
The Story of the Lost Child ↠ 2 stars

Childhood friends – one naïve, the other bright yet manipulative – four long-arse books about their very, very toxic relationship, loads of marriage drama, back and forth pettiness, while silly, insecure girl seeks the mean one’s approval ad nauseam. Why are the continually pretending to be friends when all they do is use and hurt each oth
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i read one after the other after the other, and lived their lives.
Danny Caine
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels—all four of them—are stunning. They are sophisticated, funny, heartfelt, and sizzling with feminist anger. But above all—and what makes them totally unique—is the friendship between Elena and Nina that hums and crackles at the saga’s heart. Building an epic historical saga with a female friendship at its core (instead of, say, a male/male friendship or a male/female romance) is much more radical than it should be. Plus, these characters! Lila is completely unfo ...more
tortoise dreams
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels are, as she's acknowledged, actually a single 1,700 page novel in four volumes about the lives of and relationship between two girls becoming women in Naples: Lina and Elena. I've never read anything quite like this. Is it like Trollope? Proust? Knausgaard? What is this creation? What does it mean and what do I do with it now that I've read it? When I first heard the buzz I resolved never to read the collection. Four books? So many pages? I could read Morrison, ...more
Susan Ward
This review is for all the books of this series: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Story of the Lost Child

Never have I read four books by the same author with such speed. Now that I think of it, I have never read four books by the same author, ever! But I could not put the Neapolitan Novels down. I read in the middle of the night, in the line at the grocery store, in between sets at the gym, and yes, even in traffic. It’s difficult to pinpoint
Angela Natividad
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love these books so much that I want to spend the rest of my life rereading them, circling the text and subtext, drawing ever nearer, mining it endlessly. I'm heartbroken to be through; it's hardly been two weeks but I almost can't imagine how I went about my life without being able to dip into Naples, cuddled between Elena and Lila. ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved these books while I was reading them and yet, thinking back, I am not sure what I loved about them. They deal with a time that I lived through (post WWII: I am almost the same age as Elena), but a society that is totally alien to me. It is a primitive society where women are a lower life form to be used an discarded, where it is a waste of money to educate daughters, where men habitually beat their women, everybody beats children and violence is the accepted answer to the challenges of d ...more
Oct 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels (rumored to be at least in part semi-autobiographical) have turned this mysterious, pseudonymous Italian novelist—whose real identity is still unknown thirty years since the publication of her first book—into a world-wide sensation. I enjoyed my time with this series, but it ultimately fell short and didn't blow me away, as I had come to expect, given the hype.

The author considers these to be one long Bildungsroman, published serially solely because of its leng
Rebecca Emily
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
What is it about the narrative structure of some books that makes them impossible to put down? This series had that - all I wanted to do for a few weeks was just read these books at any spare moment. I needed to find out what was going to happen next, even if just to confirm what was already predictable. From a psychological standpoint I found the process of reading these books fascinating. They were violent, and painful, and heartbreaking, interleaved with moments of joyful relief. The uncondit ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
my favorites, in order:

• the story of a new name
• the story of the lost child
• those who leave and those who stay
• my brilliant friend

though the entire saga kept me captivated. so sad to have come to the end but already i’m looking forward to rereading them.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent storytelling is the biggest merit of Ferrante´s writing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading te first part (My Brilliant Friend), I read it in two days late into the night (which I deeply regretted in the following mornings but I just couldn´t help it :). I just HAD to have the next part by the following day and then the third one and the last one. I read the whole Neapolital novels in about seven days, with one more book between this first part and the second one, so I had a lovely reading w ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I’m sad but also relieved to have finished this series, as I’ve stayed up so many late nights unable to put these down. I read this because Lynn said it was her favorite book series (hi Lynn) but she can’t even remember what happened — classic Lila, right??

Not even sure what to say about this series — I like the description of “angry Jane Austen” or like the olden days predecessor of Caroline Calloway. Gossip-y, fun, light, violent, dark, depressing. It captured feelings in a terrifyingly s
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
As you can see from my review of My Brilliant Friend, I liked the first book but found it hard to get in to. I decided to read all four, to see what all the hype was about. There were some parts about this series that I loved:
romance with Nino
relationship with daughters Elsa, Deedee and Imma
the shock of Tina
constant reinvention of Lila from glamour girl and shoe inventor to computer wiz
friendship of Lenu and Lila
in and out communist story
love of a first husband, and constant annoyance of in-laws
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The good: I jumped on the hype wagon and -oh girl - what a ride it was! Exhilarating, infuriating, nerve-wrecking... It fills me with adjectives, while there are almost none to be found inside. I love the writing style - its relentless pace kept me awake many a night. What also kept me awake were the themes it explored, especially those of the class, gender and personhood.

The bad: It is too long at places. Also, one wants to slap some characters around a bit (oh Nino, how I loathed you). It's a
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This tetralogy, written by the Italian writer Elena Ferrante (her identity is not very clear), is a beautiful travel around a indissoluble bond. The story takes place in Italy, exactly in Naples, in the 1950s and 1960s. It was very hard for me to understand the friendship between the two main characters: Lila and Lenù. They’ve shared their entire life: their childhood in the ‘rione’, their adolescence with their first experiences, their first approach to the university/ job and their maturity wi ...more
Kylee Mae
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I got pulled into the dramatic world that Elena Ferrante opened up to me with the Neapolitan novels and the life of Elena and Lila. I found a world and culture I couldn't quite understand in everyday Naples and a lifelong friendship between Elena and Lila that was complex, sometimes beneficial and at other times so very toxic. Once you have read this novel it is hard to get these lives out of your head, as Ferrante is so good at really drawing you into the world of these two women over the span ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Immersed in a world unimaginable

Ferrante has tipped the scales on creating a world that envelopes the reader and almost makes them take the form of the characters in the book. A diorama of social, cultural and political mores that have been chilled into a reality that is stunning, while keeping a distance from the real itself. Lila and Lenu should go down in history as a duo who are as iconic as Romeo and Juliet, Lassie and Timmy and Spock and Kirk.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
A long, long, LONG and oh, so very detailed account of lives of a lot of very unlikeable people; with intervals of boring political rambling. It’s hard to decide whether the mean one or the insecure self-centered whiny one is more annoying. Thank God it’s over, I cannot understand all the hype.
P.S. Most frequent thought while reading:
(to the insecure self-centered whiny one): You are an idiot 🙄
Jose Samper
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely astonishing. I should say these are 4 books. I was amazed from the beginning to the end. The ease of the writing is phenomenal. The amount of topics it touches is broad. I learned a lot, got curious.
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What I thought was going to be meaty beach read, turned into a non-stop reading frenzy by the end of book one! This was one hell of a read.
Marley Wertheimer
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i was honestly devastated when i finished the last one. i mourned.

the exploration of a lifetime of female friendship in these novels is unparalleled.
Kristaq Papa
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I happened to watch one episode of the HBO series based on the first book. I vowed not to watch any other episodes - not until I read all 4 books anyhow.

I started reading. I had my doubts, and they started multiplying immediately as soon as I found out how much I enjoyed reading the books. For reasons I cannot explain in this post, I was raised to believe that the only worthy books, are the ones that are difficult to read. And yet...

Two girls become friends during their childhood in Naples and
Rebecca Chekouras
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alora. There are so many approaches I could take in tiny reviewing the pseudonymous Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels (My Brilliant Friend, 2012; The Story of a New Name, 2013; Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, 2014; The Story of the Lost Child, 2015), so many alleys, filthy or bright, down which to wander poking and sniffing. Writers and critics are unanimous in their praise. Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times’ famous punch to the gut (now retired), writes, “dazzling . . . stunning . . . a ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought these books were amazing. They also get better as they go along, I wasn't that into the first book but I got hooked by the last line, the second was better and the third and fourth were amazing. I think Ferrante is an extremely intelligent and powerful thinker, and that her writing craft improved as she went along. So, keep reading if you aren't sure. I found the slightly vague “magic realism” elements of the first book a bit forced, and appreciated instead the raw, sometimes brutal, e ...more
Danielle Bodnar
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading these novels has been a journey. I've been swept up in these characters' lives for almost two months, and the end leaves me with mixed feelings. I was at times exuberant with joy, righteously angry, frustrated with Lenu and Lila's choices at various points, and especially by Lila's coy reticence. I was also at times struck with anxiety and a soft sadness. In other words, these books have made me feel like no book has in some time. I've been so immersed in their stories I feel like a part ...more
Tess Evans
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Housebound after spinal surgery, I came upon these novels. They are riveting in their evocation of Neapolitan life from the fifties to the present day. The detail is exquisite and the characters explored with a rare and touching intimacy. Each paragraph is crafted with care and many times I reread passages, not just for meaning but for the expression. Ferrante is fortunate to have a translator who seems so attuned to her writing. While this is an assumption on my part, I have to say that nowhere ...more
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. Absolutely tore through all four novels. Haven't been so absorbed in a story for so long in a long time. What ostensibly seems like a story of friendship and self discovery becomes a masterpiece on gender, class, leftism, fascism, academia, history, emotion. Everytime I thought I'd grasped the central themes of the story, Ferrante added more. The only trouble I have is in trying to recommend the series to others - how to even describe something that eludes classification???

PS gal needs
Mona Nomura
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never read a book, more or less a series, where I had zero attachments to any of the characters but could not put it down.

Like a classic piece of music, starts slow and crescendos, hence this five year tardy to the party completion.

Dark, powerful, brutally honest, a once in a lifetime story from a once in a generation storyteller.

100% recommended.
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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. ...more

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)
  • The Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels #4)

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