Dramatika asked:

Do you think Lila could be trusted as a friend? Why Lina continues this toxic relationship with Lila, who to me is perfect illustration of the proverb with friends like this..Lila is complex character, manipulative yet selfless, evil yet kind at the same time, but too dangerous to have as a friend I think.

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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 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.
Guillermo Arbe I wonder what an Italian would say. The terms and forms of friendship are different in different cultures. Although not exact and not always, I recognize many of the behaviors and reactions as similar to my own cultural experience in South America. One beautiful point. Lina is more than a friend to Lenú. She's a family member in terms of endearment. What we call here "prima de cariño". Not a blood cousin, but someone much closer than a friend. Someone who you can entrust your kids to and they cannot easily say no, just as with a close family member. This provides certain allowances, such as getting angry and yelling at each other without breaking the relationship. So, yes, I believe she's a friend, a very special friend in fact, only under terms of friendship that not all cultures share.
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David Gill I think Lila was an amazing friend to Elena and all her supposed manipulative and evil traits were all in the mind of Elena. When Lila said horrible things to Elena they were all home truths and good advice, which you want your best friends to tell you, even though they may hurt.
Lnaimark I agree with your comments about Lila - BUT Lina/Lila are different names for the same person. Rafaela Cerullo is referred to as "Lina" by everyone but Elena (Lenu). Lenu is the only one who calls her Lila.
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Liz Winsor "Why Lina continues this toxic relationship with Lila"

Lina and Lila are the same person.
Robyn Markow I felt that they were like sisters more than friends. They had times were they were v.close,then they wouldn't communicate for several months or years. It seemed that Elena was the more well-adjusted one but, then again,they story is written from her POV . Also,she(Elena)did leave her husband,who had his problems, but was a basically a good man, for the manipulative Nino,who juggled several women at once and still had feelings for Lila (even though he wrote her off )as well as having a child with him. as But getting back to Lila herself;I feel that although she wasn't always the most likable person,she was honest & didn't hide the fact that she was doing business w/the Solara Brothers. Yes,she could be a real bitch but she was essentially a loyal friend to Elena,who In my opinion, seemed Passive/Aggressive and rather smug at times. Most importantly,Lila, unlike Elena, never left the neighborhood in which they they grew up,so her personality was a "Survival Mechanism" for dealing with the environment that she lived in;especially after tragically losing her v.young daughter,Tina. Both women were flawed but that's what makes these books so interesting and realistic. I'd love to read Lila's version of their friendship but I guess that-much like the author herself-will intentionally remain an enigma..
Marzie Thanks for @Lnaimark for pointing out the Lenú/Lina confusion in the question and the response.

I think that Lila was fiercely loyal, in her way, to Elena/Lenú but that both women have evolved so much that their ties to one another begin to fray. Neither is as magnificent as the person on the pedestals they have put one another on. Lila doubts herself less than Lenú does and I think that self-doubt and self-justification make Lenú a less than reliable narrator. That said, Lila's often heedless forward momentum, especially in the first two books, makes her disloyal to those who thought they bought her loyalty. And that, I think is the key- Elena was her friend and cherished the friendship early on. Lila's interaction with almost everyone else in her life, other than perhaps Enzo, was transactional. They wanted to buy her and for her to provide connections and the spoils of these connections for them. Lenú never expected that from her.
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Valeriya Berezina This puzzles me too. Why would anyone in their right mind be willing to hold on to a relationship with a mentally unstable person such as Lila? Especially when she takes out her frustrations and ever changing moods on your children? Elena is a lousy mother for that reason alone. As for Lila's brilliance, to me it has always seemed too forced - or rather the way Elena talks about it is too forced. Not to mention that she many times contradicts her own descriptions of Lila's abilities (or lack thereof). In one chapter Lila is supposed to have this amazing command of the Italian language, of how to write and edit all sorts of texts, she provides inspiration to everyone around her, including the much better educated Elena; in the next chapter Lila is suddenly described as a vulgar, narrow-minded, loud-mouthed person who hasn't read a book in years (and in fact does not even possess any books at home). Well, it's either one or the other, if you ask me. However, these inconsistencies (and there are many more throughout the four novels) are hardly surprising, considering Ferrante's own admission that she almost never re-reads her written material.
FEMme Lila is not trustworthy, and it is understandable. She commits actions she knows are wrong, and still she cn not help it. The root of her distorted ideas and low self esteem is in her childhood and how she was raised by her mother. Lila, i see, can not detach from d past. Whether it be her mother or daughters. She defines herself in d others' eyes. I sympathize w her. She is feeling under pressure of all these thoughts which paralyze her of doing her rituals. An emotionally sensetive soul.
Carmen I think that Lila had very good qualities and was often helpful. She was also hideous and toxic at times. Her biggest lack of scruples is shown with Nino. She knew he was dirt who would stick himself into ANY willing woman, yet she ran to flirt with him as soon as she knew he was coming to visit his daughter. She ignored his daughter's needs and her own daughter, so lost her. Maybe in the original this connection is made clearly and it's the translation that makes it so ponderous
Hana Neua no, a very unreliable friend. o.k. if you take her as entertainment, but not if you are bound to her emotionally. yes, toxic. very much.
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