Okay, change of plan. I had intended to read all four of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and then review them as one. But after suffering through the first in the series – My Brilliant Friend – I just can’t go on.
Why has this book become an international publishing sensation? Why do the critics gush and rave? I cannot figure it out.
This happens sometimes – I find myself completely out of step with the literary zeitgeist.
I suspect the story behind the book – who is Elena Ferrante? and just how autobiographical are these books? – has driven much of the interest. And yes, that is intriguing.
But the book itself is a boring slog. The central relationship between childhood friends Elena and Lila is reasonably compelling but the supporting characters are dull to the point of being indistinguishable.
The writing is clunky – often a feature of translated books, to be sure, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating – and the story goes nowhere, ending abruptly with the clear expectation you’ll pick up book two.
But I won’t be.
Next: 1692. For real this time.