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Booktober Break! The Elusive Elena Ferrante

booktober logo smFall is the season when we all begin to move indoors and even pastimes get a little more ambitious – things like binge watching Game of Thrones, knitting Christmas stockings for the dog and tackling fat serious novels by Authors You Should Read come to mind. 

This fall is loaded with releases of buzzy books from authors Salman Rushdie, Elena Ferrante, John Irving and a host of celebrity authors. Fall break just may afford you time to get through one, or at least at procure it for your night table to enjoy over semester break. Some library staff have perused the fall lists and have picked their favorites. For a Booktober special, we’ll bring you their thoughts each day this week.


Fall break is a good time to catch up on reading for pleasure, rather than assigned readings. A number of interesting new works, both fiction and non-fiction, have been released this fall. As a complete escape from academia, my suggested fall break reading is fiction, a novel that is set in Italy.

The Story of the Lost Child, a novel by Elena Ferrante (translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein), was released in September. It is the fourth volume of Ferrante’s “Neapolitan novels,” tracing the lives of Elena (Lenù) Greco and Rafaella (Lila) Cerullo who were both born in Naples in 1944 and met in the first grade. The Story of the Lost Child is told by Lenù, now age 66. After time away from Naples, in this final book, Lenù is back in Naples and reunited with her childhood friend, Lila. Both are pregnant and early in the novel, they are caught in an earthquake. Ferrante’s focus is on the friendship of the two women, but she also takes a broad view of the city and its people.

While this book can be read alone, for the full history of the lives of Lenù and Lila you might read the other three books listed here in chronological order: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and The Days of Abandonment.

Ferrante herself is a mystery; her real name is unknown and she has yet to grant a face-to-face interview.  What is known is that she is Italian, the author, who in the “Neapolitan novels,” has chronicled the life-long convoluted friendship between two women in four fascinating novels.

Article by Alice Bampton.




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Last Modified: October 14, 2015

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