You can hardly have avoided the fuss surrounding Elena Ferrante, the pseudonymous Italian author of the Neapolitan novels.
In the three years since the publication in English of the first in the series – My Brilliant Friend – her star has risen to the extent that she is now feted as one of the greats of contemporary literature.
This, the final instalment in Ferrante’s soap opera-like and apparently semi-autobiographical saga, will only cement that reputation.
At the heart of Ferrante’s chronicle are dazzling Lila and brilliant Elena, friends since childhood, but now, in the early Eighties, young mothers.
Elena, the narrator, has left her husband for married Nino (Lila’s former lover). Both Elena and Lila become pregnant again, but Elena’s doubts about serial seducer Nino persist.
Written in direct and insistent prose, Ferrante’s novel is full of drama: fighting, blood, screaming and political corruption are all par for the course.
But it is Elena’s extraordinary plumbing of identity that ensures that this book – and its predecessors – leave such an indelible impression.