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My Brilliant Friend : The Neapolitan Novels : Book 1 - Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend

The Neapolitan Novels : Book 1

By: Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translator)


Published: 26th March 2015
In Stock. Ships from Australia today or next business day
RRP $22.99

My friendship with Lila began the day we decided to go up the dark stairs that led, step after step, flight after flight, to the door of Don Achille's apartment...
I waited to see if Lila would have second thoughts and turn back. I knew what she wanted to do; I had hoped that she would forget about it, but in vain.

My Brilliant Friend is a ravishing, wonderfully written novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

The story of Elena and Lila begins in a poor but vibrant neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples. The two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else, sometimes to their own detriment, as each discovers more about who she is and suffers or delights in the throes of their intense friendship.

There is a piercing honesty about Ferrante's prose that makes My Brilliant Friend a compulsively readable portrait of two young women, and also the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country.

Caroline Baum's Review

I had some catching up to do on the rest of the world. It took me until book three in the quartet, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, to become gripped by the relationship at the centre of these novels but once I surrendered, that was it. I think I forgot to breathe while reading Part Four, The Story of the Lost Child. It was so tough and gritty, so fierce and ruthless in its brutal psychological honesty about the dynamics between two flawed women of great strength whose fates are intertwined by forces that are almost mythic.

By the time we reach the final volume, Lila and Elena argue about politics, family, community, friendship with an almost savage intensity. Raw power tears across every page. Tragedy, menace, revenge and grief haunt the final chapters of this epic literary achievement. It richly repays the time invested, building to a crescendo from which the reader, when released, may feel a little bereft.

Review by John Purcell

Why do I put off reading books which come with a great many excellent recommendations? Is it some residue from my adolescent self, standing firm against the coercion of the group?

Probably something as stupid as that.

Well, I'm glad I overcame that foolishness when it came to picking up this much lauded, discussed and recommended novel, which is the first in a series of novels by that strangely secretive author.

My Brilliant Friend doesn't grab you by the throat and demand to be read. It is far too self-possessed for that. This is a story told with quiet precision, a story which unfolds effortlessly, placing you firmly in the setting, the outskirts of Naples, introducing you to two very different little girls who become friends before your eyes. Surrounding them is cast of fully realised characters, with backstories and heartbeats, who continue to live richly even when not directly part of the narrative, their stories continuing offstage, as it were.

There is something uniquely compelling about this cool approach. This is a story which seems to declare - I don't need you, dear reader, to exist.

(By the way, I call balderdash on those who claim that these books are better suited to a female audience).

About the Authors

Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. She is the author of seven novels: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter, and the quartet of Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. She is one of Italy's most acclaimed authors.

Ann Goldstein is an editor at the New Yorker and a recipient of the PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award.


Good read


Shes'a wonderful author. She writes in a scholarly way, but easy to follow. Excellent prose and spare writing. Most enjoyable



Every page paints a fascinating picture


The two heroines, although both different personalies, come from the same area in Naples. They are bound by similiar ties, with more than a sisterly closeness. This , the first in the series sets up the story. It's about children ,but is isby no meas a children's book.

Mudgee NSW


The Start of a wonderful epic


Once the first book 'hooked' me, I was impatient to read the remaining three books. I'm half way through book 3 now and totally engrossed.

Sydney, AU


A fabulous read. Couldn't put it down


Am on the second book in the series and looking forward to the other two

Mudgee NSW


Great read


Loved it. Had to buy the next in the series.



Italian soap opera


I read this book for my book club, chosen by someone who has read the whole series. Even though I felt "when is something going to happen", the characters themselves kept me intrigued. Perhaps a good book to read while traveling in Italy?



Let the Italians tell the story!!


It took me a while to get engaged with all the families and Italian names, but once it happened, I just couldn't stop reading. Have just started the second one from the Naples series, can't wait top read them all.



Great read


Really enjoyed it can't wait to read the other three in the series



Italian women in the 20th century


THis is a comprehensive story about 2 girls growing up in the corrupt and crime ridden city of Naples.Popular with all age groups , it vividly describes the poverty and difficulty of escaping ,basically through education. It also sets the scene for the next 3 books in the series.



what was all the fuss


This read might have been better if I hadn't read the blurbs from reading critiques. I had expectations of a great read, and was sadly disappointed. I found the narrative tedious, the characters one dimensional, and felt by the end that a possibly good read had been stretched out to cover 4 books. I wondered if the translation had fallen flat, and it might be better in Italian. Most disappointing. mass literary hysteria.



My Brilliant Friend

3.9 15


'Gutsy and compulsively readable...One of the more nuanced portraits of feminine friendship in recent memory...Ferrante wisely balances her memoir-like emotional authenticity with a wry sociological understanding of a society on the verge of dramatic change.' Vogue (US)

'Everyone should read anything with [Elena Ferrante's] name on it.' Boston Globe

'Beautifully translated by Ann Goldstein...[Ferrante] writes with a ferocious, intimate urgency.' San Francisco Chronicle

'Her novels are intensely, violently personal, and because of this they seem to dangle bristling key chains of confession before the unsuspecting reader...[A] beautiful and delicate tale of confluence and reversal.' -- James Wood New Yorker

'Cinematic in the density of its detail.' Times Literary Supplement

'Elena Ferrante will blow you away.' Alice Sebold

Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante is one of Italy's most acclaimed authors. Her identity, however, is kept secret.

She was born in Naples and is the author of seven novels: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter, and the quartet of Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child.

Visit Elena Ferrante's Booktopia Author Page

ISBN: 9781925240009
ISBN-10: 9781925240009
Series: Neapolitan Novels
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 26th March 2015
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.8  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 19.8