The Daily Mail



by Elena Ferrante

(Europa £11.99)

A few pages into volume one of what are known as the Neapolitan Novels, I was completely hooked.

Canny, highly intelligent and hungry for experience, two young girls, Lila and narrator Elena (known as Lenu), grow up together in a tightknit community on the outskirts of Naples, until circumstances force them down different paths — one of them into marriage at the age of 17.

This is the Fifties and, ruled by tradition, vendettas and fiercely guarded territories, a combustible city is coping with post-war exhaustion and poverty.

Yet, change is coming and the friendship of these girls — fractured but enduring — provides the emotional heart of this superb coming-of-age novel.

Forensically observed, truthful, rich and rewarding, this is an unforgettable reading experience. Brava also to Ann Goldstein, the translator.

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