Daily Mail

Fall in love this Christmas with a good book: Something for everyone – our critics select the year’s best novels

Some of the Mail's critics reveal their top picks of this year's books , including The Whites by Richard Price, as Harry Brandt, which was called 'the crime novel of the year' by Stephen King

Over the year, the quartet, known as the Neapolitan Novels, by Elena Ferrante took a grip on readers in droves. Rightly so. The author’s anonymity does perhaps augment the novels’ mystique, but nothing can detract from the extraordinary, quietly incendiary quality of the writing.

In this first volume, the fractured, on-off friendship of the young Lila and Lenu is minutely explored within the tight-knit Neapolitan community of the Fifties, and provides the emotional heart of the novel.

Post-war, Naples is exhausted, crowded, combustible, impoverished and dominated by rigid traditional family mores and violent vendettas.

What chance do girls such as Elena (Lenu) and Lila have? Read it for its forensically observed and truthful characterisation, its rich and textured portrayal of a society groping towards modernity, the political and cultural fluctuations and its seemingly effortless prose.

Then treat yourself by becoming absorbed in the next three titles.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-3344877/Fall-love-Christmas-good-book-critics-select-year-s-best-novels.html#ixzz3td2Z0t9P
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook