Issue: September 15, 2014
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. Ferrante, Elena (Author)
Sep 2014. 416 p. Europa, paperback, $18. (9781609452339).
The third novel in Ferrante’s Neapolitan series continues the engaging story of Elena and Lila, picking up where The Story of a New Name (2013) left off. While Lila is working to support her son following the failure of her marriage, Elena is enjoying the success of her best-selling novel. Though they have been disconnected for some time, when Lila collapses from exhaustion, Elena heeds her cry for help. Drawing strength from each other, they take on the terrible working conditions in the factory where Lila works. But their friendship continues to ebb and flow through marriages, affairs, children, and careers. Each has sought in her own way to escape the limitations of her upbringing, but while Lila does so from the confines of their rough Naples neighborhood, Elena’s college degree and marriage into an affluent family open doors that take her farther away. Ferrante continues to imbue this growing saga with great magic, treating the girls’ years of marriage and motherhood with breathtaking honesty while envisaging the turbulence of political and social unrest in 1970s Italy. Though originally planned as a trilogy, the story doesn’t finish here, as this book ends with a hook that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment. — Cortney Ophoff