My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

77%

23 Critic Reviews

This is both fascinating...and occasionally tedious, as day-to-day life can be. But Lila, mercurial, unsparing, and, at the end of this first episode in a planned trilogy from Ferrante (The Lost Daughter), seemingly capable of starting a full-scale neighborhood war, is a memorable character.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a tetralogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.




From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Elena Ferrante

See more books from this Author
Elena Ferrante was born in Naples, Italy. She is the author of My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and her previous novels The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter.
 
Published September 25, 2012 by Europa Editions. 331 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Apr 03 2016
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for My Brilliant Friend
All: 23 | Positive: 20 | Negative: 3

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jan 16 2016

This is both fascinating...and occasionally tedious, as day-to-day life can be. But Lila, mercurial, unsparing, and, at the end of this first episode in a planned trilogy from Ferrante (The Lost Daughter), seemingly capable of starting a full-scale neighborhood war, is a memorable character.

Read Full Review of My Brilliant Friend | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Guardian

Good
on Mar 01 2016

Her writing has a powerful intimacy – as if her characters, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, are the lenses through which we read our own minds.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Melanie Smith on Oct 19 2012

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND is an extraordinarily meaningful and absorbing read. I can really think of no better praise than to simply say I loved it, though that seems inadequate commendation for such a supremely talented author.

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Booklist Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Cortney Ophoff on Feb 04 2016

...Ferrante’s unflinching and insightful prose, which was rancorous in her novel Days of Abandonment (2010), is captivating and hopeful here and will have readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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Open Letters Monthly

Below average
Reviewed by Rohan Maitzen on Feb 12 2014

I found My Brilliant Friend very interesting, and yet I can’t decide how high a priority it is for me to read on in the series.

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Slate

Above average
Reviewed by Pasha Malla on Nov 01 2015

What she writes are the novels we are reading, which now span some 1,200 pages. The story isn’t quite a confessional, but it does feel as though it’s been told out of necessity...

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PopMatters

Above average
Reviewed by Dan Barrett on Mar 24 2013

Alas, Ferrante could have found a way to excise this thicket of words. Still, I want to recommend this book. The start and conclusion are particularly strong.

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M/C Anderson

Above average
Reviewed by Leanne Weymans on Jan 14 2015

I found this book slow moving at times. I wonder if this is because My Brilliant Friend was originally written by Ferrante in Italian and was translated by Ann Goldstein to English. Despite this, My Brilliant Friend, still carries intensity and is worth investing some time into reading.

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Readings

Good
Reviewed by Bronte Coates on Jan 16 2016

Her novel is clean, pared back and, as my friend had warned me, so close to the bone you can feel your teeth grinding. The result is shockingly good.

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Readings

Good
Reviewed by Bronte Coates on Jul 29 2013

One of the aspects I loved most about My Brilliant Friend was Ferrante’s biting portrayal of a friendship...The two girls are competitive, caring, jealous, needy; small slights can cause true suffering, while careless gestures of affection – great happiness. Such moments ring with familiarity...

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Raging Biblioholism

Good
on Jan 18 2016

Ferrante Fever. It’s a real thing. I wasn’t sure I was going to buy in, even as I read the first half or so of this novel – but by the end, it had me.

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Women 24

Good
Reviewed by Women24 on Feb 17 2016

It’s smart, insightful and one hundred percent addictive. I read it in just three days (no mean feat with the kids at home during the holidays).

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Reading World

Good
Reviewed by Susan on Feb 14 2016

I’m not sure what makes this novel as fascinating as it is, but I could not put it down. These characters are extraordinarily compelling, even if what they are doing is nothing earth-shattering.

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ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Good
Reviewed by Lisa Hill on Nov 10 2013

I’ve only passed through Naples on my way to Pompeii but in this novel the sense of place seems brilliantly evoked. The writing is powerful, and the translation by Ann Goldstein is excellent.

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Boston Bibliophile

Above average
Reviewed by Marie Cloutier on Nov 08 2012

My Brilliant Friend lacks the kind of shocking bluntness that characterizes books like The Days of Abandonment or The Lost Daughter. The book's power comes from this accumulation of detail, of day to day life and the slowly diverging trajectories of the two girls.

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The Nature of Things

Good
on Dec 21 2015

If I had to select one word to describe My Brilliant Friend, it would be "fascinating." I was fascinated by the narrative from the first few lines.

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Book Nut

Below average
on Sep 04 2015

I’m not sure I figured out what was so great about the novel. I was interested enough to keep reading; the character’s lives were intriguing and, yeah, I guess I did want to hear what Elena and Lina would do next. But, in the end, I don’t know if I cared.

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Seeing the World Through Books

Good
Reviewed by Mary on Jul 11 2013

...a serious author whose goal is to develop three novels in a continuing saga about Elena and Lila from age six to age sixty-six, showing the changes in Neapolitan society from the 1950s to the present. The novel has a broad and well-developed scope...

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https://savidgereads.wordpress.com

Good
on Jul 24 2015

I am pleased I have finally read My Brilliant Friend and spent time with Elena and Lila, I am looking forward to finding out where their friendship will go in the next three Neapolitan Novels as well as what happens to the people and the place around them.

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https://thehungryreader.wordpress.com

Excellent
on Nov 20 2012

The writing is fluid and does not restrict itself to the plot. The translation by Ann Goldstein does a fantastic job of communicating this to readers.

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https://anokatony.wordpress.com

Above average
Reviewed by Anokatony on Nov 11 2012

Alberto Moravia has been my favorite Italian novelist for many years. I can never get enough of his novels; I’ve read many of them. I’m developing the same strong appreciation for Elena Ferrante.

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https://feministtexicanreads.wordpress.com

Above average
on Sep 30 2014

Once I actually got to Naples, it was so easy to imagine the characters in this book come to life in Ferrante’s world...It’s a lovely book...

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Rebecca Howden

Good
on Oct 16 2013

Much of the intensity of the novel is tampered by the classical, episodic structure, and language that is both solemn and beautiful. As a standalone novel, it’s an engaging snapshot of life – but the masterful shift towards the end will leave you yearning for the next installment.

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Reader Rating for My Brilliant Friend
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1841 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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