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.
Liz Winsor "Why Lina continues this toxic relationship with Lila"

Lina and Lila are the same person.
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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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.
Kirsta Lamm Actually, I think Lila is very trustworthy, but insensitive or mean, whether intentionally or not is hard to say. Lenu is much kinder but less trustworthy. In the beginning, I was more sympathetic to Lenu, but over the whole series, I gained a lot of respect for Lila, who persevered through such terrible circumstances.

There were a few things Lenu did that I found hard to forgive her for: 1. Throwing away Lila's journals (as an aside, I wonder why Lila never asked for them back...I kept waiting for that, or waiting for Lenu to confess); 2. Getting into a relationship with Nino after he abandoned Lila when she was pregnant; and 3. Basically forgetting her parents and siblings until she needed her mother's help with her own child, and even then, did she ever offer her parents financial help? But maybe Lenu and her husband weren't as well off as his parents?

At the same time, I think Lenu was taken advantage of by Nino's father, and this was a trauma that must have been very painful compared with Lila's and Nino's passionate affair. Lila was mean for making fun of Lenu for liking Nino--if she knew that, why did she not only go after Nino, but insist on making Lenu help her? I really felt for Lenu during this part, and I hated Lila. There was also the fact that Lila sent her son to stay with Lenu for a long while but apparently couldn't even be bothered to remember the names of Lenu's two older daughters for the first few years of their lives. I mean, I think both of them were bad friends at various points.

I guess it *was* a toxic friendship, and I think this may come down to Lila having a stronger personality and sort of dominating Lenu to a point where Lenu couldn't voice her own feelings or needs. Lenu had a more compliant personality, and she was less daring and less honest than Lila, but she was also more practical, less difficult, and less obviously hurtful to others (though over time, it became evident that she sometimes used or betrayed people, like Pietro, Nino's and Antonio's wives, and Lila herself).

I'm so confused and equal parts validated and troubled by the fact that this is the only book that I've ever read, so far in my life, that captures the intimacy and treachery of close female friendships (as I have personally experienced them).
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
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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.
Hannah FEM 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.
Rod Butler I believe they were perfectly matched, in fact I thought they would make a better partnership together, than they eventually did in their own individual marriages and relationships. They were like night and day and should have continued into a full relationship together.
Jenny No, I don't think Lila could be trusted on any serious level. I guess she could be trusted to watch Lenu's girls, but I would have felt uncomfortable about having them there for long, knowing the crazy ideas Lila would put in their heads.

I do think Lila cares about Lenu, but definitely in a selfish way. She expected Lenu to be successful so she ccould be associated with someone who "made it." She also wanted someone to watch her kids, listen to her talk, and be there for her. She didn't care much about the particulars of Elena's interests at all. She wasn't even honest, and I do think she was jealous that Lenu got with Nino. I think she wanted Nino back, and would have taken him back even after she told Lenu to stay away. She wanted Lenu in her life on HER terms, but not otherwise.
Jan Nolan I think Lina and Lila are more like siblings than friends with times of estrangement and separations throughout the story. There is always one who does more of the work of getting in touch and one who waits secure in the knowledge that the other person will return because they are “home” and the other person was the one to go away, leave and the one at home doesn’t acknowledge any new life someone created as they themselves never left and don’t see anything wrong with where they live this is Lila. It’s almost like Lila can inflict any hurt on Lina and any betrayal for example the pain she suffered when Lila and Nino became a couple in Ischia it is interesting she never talks of these things to Lila she doesn’t tell her the pain she suffered but we seldom get to hear how Lila is suffering as the story is told by Lina. Lila uses her rage and anger to survive in many circumstances and learnt this coping mechanism in childhood it was the only way she knew how to get by it’s her armour. Yet it is their differences and love of the same things that keeps them bonded for example as children they planned to write a book one day like Little Women. I see them as sisters as they were always together in childhood growing up in the neighbourhood they looked to each other for the strengths each one had. Also there are times when Lila is kind helps Lina buying her all the books for school when she cannot afford them brand new books too, another time giving her food to take home from the grocery store. Yes Lina is a toxic character but she is also fascinating too and it is this fascination and love for her that ensures Lina will keep seeking her out throughout her life even though she is the one who “escaped the wretchedness”. Lila is a constant reminder of Lina’s roots and reminds her where she came from and gives her a reason to return home despite escaping it and when she seeks Lila out she also visits her mother and her family at the same time because deep down she has a homesickness for a place she escaped. This shows us that we never truly escape our roots. Lila always brings Lina home.
Suzanne Suker We only can see Lila through Lenu's eyes. Lenu envies, loves, hates, is inspired and repelled by Lila depending on the day. Lenu requires validation from society but mostly from Lila, who requires none. Lenu's perception of the world, situations, people is one of a dreamer. In contrast, Lila is a realist having learned at an early that her talents don't need validation to exist and that life is not fair. We cannot trust Lenu's version of the world or her POV about Lila at any given time.
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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