Boston Herald: Unforgettable ‘Friend’: HBO adapts Elena Ferrante’s tale charting Neapolitan girls’ relationship

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Mark Pergald – Nov 18, 2018

Elena Ferrante is one of the most beloved authors in the world.

The elusive, reclusive writer (her real identity is a mystery) has created the Neapolitan Novels, a cycle of four books released starting in 2012 with “My Brilliant Friend” that charts the fraught friendship between two women, starting when they are girls in 1950s Naples.

The novels are acclaimed for their ability to capture a tumultuous period in Italy’s history as well as the complicated bonds of devotion and lifelong resentments. They would seem to be impossible to adapt.

And yet here we are, and so much the better for it.

HBO, in conjunction with the Italian networks RAI and TIMvision, presents the first of her novels, broken into eight hourlong episodes, with Ferrante helping to script. The series draws you into a world of just a few blocks shared by several impoverished families crammed in decrepit apartments. It’s the kind of neighborhood where the local don can yank a mourner out of a church funeral service and beat him and the priest and the parishioners stare the other way.

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