Material Witness

Five Books Of 2015

I’ve fallen short of my book-a-week target for 2015 by about 10 books, but what’s missing in quantity has been more than made up for in quality.

Picking five favourites has therefore been so difficult – particularly as four could be by the same author – that I’ve cheated a little. (Is quadrilogy an actual word?)

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

There’s not a lot left unsaid about these books, not least by me, as I reviewed #1 My Brilliant Friendin January and #s 2 and 3, The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and  Those Who Stay in the summer.

These books had an emotional charge to them that is rarely matched as well as a fierce honesty in the story-telling that made them compelling and uncomfortable in turn. When you start dreaming about characters in the book you’re reading, you know they have either deeply affected you or scared the life out of you. In this case it erred toward the former although Lila is more than capable of the latter.

Closing the book at the end of volume 4, The Story of the Lost Child, was the beginning of a grieving process. I’ve filled the gap these books left – to some extent anyway – with the Ferrante back catalogue. Amazingly, The Days of Abandonment, a story with incredibly strong echoes of the Lila and Lenú saga, managed to turn the emotional intensity up even higher.

These are books to be reckoned with, as memorable as anything I’ve ever read.