Have you heard of the series of books by Italian author, Elena Ferrante called the Neapolitan novels? I've been working my way through them these past of couple months and I just finished book four the other day. I haven't been so engrossed in a series like this in ages. From what I understand, these books and their author have quite the cult following in Italy and now abroad as well. Adding to the intrigue the author's true identity is unknown and Ferrante is only a pen name used to protect her privacy. The novels read like an autobiography but it's hard to know whether they are the true story of Ferrante's life since so little is actually known about her. The books follow Elena Greco (possibly Ferrante) and her friend Lila from early childhood through late adulthood. They are incredibly written; a detailed look into the private lives of two friends as they navigate school, the Neapolitan neighborhood they grow up in (and return to again and again), jealousy, love, heartbreak, failed marriages and aging. The writing is different than anything else I have ever read. Ferrante is so honest, so real in her description of the dichotomy of female friendships that what she describes is both familiar and shocking. She writes the things we think but never say. If this isn't an autobiography Ferrante's ability for story telling is unsurpassed. It feels incredibly real. If this is autobiographical than the author has given us a voyeuristic view into the deepest parts of her life and relationships in an incredibly vulnerable way.
The books are long, and Ferrante writes the story of Lila and Elena with meticulous care. It's a slow, delicious unfurling of their lives that left me wanting more even after consuming four books and hundreds of pages. Have you read them? Would you? They're all I want to talk about now that I've finished them. If you have, let's discuss! Hit me up in the comments!