The Story of a New Name PDF/EPUB ´ Story of a

The Story of a New Name This novel broke my heart It broke my heart so badly that I had to stop reading it for a few days to recover.This is the second book of Elena Ferrante s Neapolitan series, and it follows Elena and Lila from their teenage years and into their early 20s Their neighborhood in Naples is still rough and violent in the 1960s, but Lila s marriage to the wealthy grocer Stefano allows her to climb out of the poverty The two friends were often competitive, especially about school, but in book two, they This novel broke my heart It broke my heart so badly that I had to stop reading it for a few days to recover.This is the second book of Elena Ferrante s Neapolitan series, and it follows Elena and Lila from their teenage years and into their early 20s Their neighborhood in Naples is still rough and violent in the 1960s, but Lila s marriage to the wealthy grocer Stefano allows her to climb out of the poverty The two friends were often competitive, especially about school, but in book two, they are also competitive about men.Which brings me to why this novel broke my heart It s hard to talk about this book without spoilers, so I shall hide it for those who don t want to know yet view spoiler Elena, who is our narrator, has been in love with Nino Sarratore since they were children Nino is smart and driven, but also quiet and elusive While on vacation, the beautiful Lila steals Nino away, and the two begin an affair Lila insists she s fallen in love with Nino and wants to leave her husband Meanwhile, Elena is so depressed over losing her chance with Nino that she ends up in a situation where she s seduced you could also say raped by Nino s creepy father hide spoiler While it took me a while to get into the first book in this series, My Brilliant Friend, I was instantly drawn up into the story in this second book There are still a lot of families and confusing nicknames to remember, but there is an Index of Characters at the beginning that is a helpful reference Early in the story, Elena admits she has read Lila s diary, which Lila gave to Elena to prevent Stefano from finding it Having Lila s perspective on the events was a clever way to add depth to the narrative At several times, Elena is so upset with Lila that she deliberately loses contact with her, and later she s able to fill in the gaps of what happened to her by reading the diary.While I have high praise for this novel, I also have a warning for those who don t like violence this novel has innumerable incidents of domestic abuse and rape, and some of the scenes are deeply disturbing Ferrante wrote stark descriptions of what happens when it becomes acceptable in a culture for men to beat women For example, early in the novel, Stefano rapes Lila also called Lina on her wedding night He leaned over to kiss her on the mouth, but she avoided him, turning her face forcefully to right and left, struggling, twisting, as she repeated, Leave me alone, I don t want you, I don t want you, I don t want you At that point, almost against his will, the tone of Stefano s voice rose Now you re really pissing me off, Lina He repeated that remark two or three times, each time louder, as if to assimilate fully an order that was coming to him from very far away, perhaps even from before he was born The order was, be a man, Ste either you subdue her now or you ll never subdue her your wife has to learn right away that she is the female and you re the male and therefore she has to obey emphasis mine My point is that even though this is the story of two female friends, I have found these novels to be very thoughtful in their social commentary, especially with the different paths that Elena and Lila took Elena stayed in school and wanted to find a career that would allow her to move away, but Lila chose to marry a successful businessman and stay in the neighborhood However, each woman still deals with rape and the threat of violence, they still push and struggle to change their roles as girlfriends and wives, and they have to handle criticism and judgment when they try to better themselves through reading and education Basically it s damned if you do, damned if you don t.The drama of the two women was so real and well written that I feel as if know them I did like the first book, but I thought this second book was a much stronger story And now I am so engrossed in their lives that I instantly started reading book three after finishing book two Highly recommended.Favorite Quotes If nothing could save us, not money, not a male body, and not even studying, we might as well destroy everything immediately Of course, the explanation was simple we had seen our fathers beat our mothers from childhood We had grown up thinking that a stranger must not even touch us, but that our father, our boyfriend, and our husband could hit us when they liked, out of love, to educate us, to reeducate us But one afternoon Lila said softly that there was nothing that could eliminate the conflict between the rich and the poor Those who are on the bottom always want to be on top, those who are on top want to stay on top, and one way or another they always reach the point where they re kicking and spitting at each other She chose a different path and one can t go back, life takes us where it wants I said to myself every day I am what I am and I have to accept myself I was born like this, in this city, with this dialect, without money I will give what I can give, I will take what I can take, I will endure what has to be endured Don t read books that you can t understand, it s bad for you My parents, my siblings were very proud of me, but, I realized, they didn t know why what use was I, why had I returned, how could they demonstrate to the neighbors that I was the pride of the family If you thought about it I only complicated their life, further crowding the small apartment, makingarduous the arrangement of beds at night, getting in the way of a daily routine that by now didn t allow for me Besides, I always had my nose in a book, standing up, sitting in one corner or another, a useless monument to study, a self important, serious person whom they all made it their duty not to disturb, but about whom they also wondered What are her intentions This is a marvelous novel with heart and soul, Neapolitan heart and soul that is The second installment in the famous Elena Ferrante tetralogy, for me anyway, exceeded the first book in originality and plot line I found it moving and a very quick read despite its nearly 500 page length.For this review, I wanted to focus on the title and the importance of names in Ferrante s work First off, there is, it seems to me, a Proustian reference here to Le nom du pays Le nom which is the somewhat This is a marvelous novel with heart and soul, Neapolitan heart and soul that is The second installment in the famous Elena Ferrante tetralogy, for me anyway, exceeded the first book in originality and plot line I found it moving and a very quick read despite its nearly 500 page length.For this review, I wanted to focus on the title and the importance of names in Ferrante s work First off, there is, it seems to me, a Proustian reference here to Le nom du pays Le nom which is the somewhat ambiguous subtitle of one of the early sections of La Recherche du Temps Perdu There are some similarities between Proust s style of describing Marcel s youth to how Ms Ferrante describes Elena s youth There is also a second subtle Proustian technique we learn in this book that the narrator writes her first book and publishes it under her name Elena and we know the author s name is given as Elena, so as the same ambiguity exists between Marcel and Elena the narrators, Marcel and Elena the characters, and Marcel and Elena the authors of the book Underneath this, in the narrative itself, names play a huge role in the story The, and I apologize for the overwrought term ambiguity once again, ambiguous frontier between Elena Lina Lenucchia and Lila Len is apparent in their names and their nicknames As an aside, is it me or does the Italian language have an incredible plethora of nicknames Elena s search for identity is complex and goes through ups and downs, a reason for this is precisely how hard it is for her to distinguish herself from Lila in her own head complex because their trajectories, their looks, their families are both so incredibly different and yet Elena has this magnetic, inevitable attraction to her friend and this impedes her search for self.We pick up the lives of Lila and Elena in the 60s after Lila s mariage to Stefano and during Elena s studies in high school and at university in Pisa The themes that were present in My Brilliant Friend resonate here once again, especially those of the subjugation of women and the problems of class Elena s sexual initiation and the battering of Lila by Stefano serve as examples of the former whereas both characters struggles to escape the Neopolitan slums permeate both of their stories What fascinates me as a reader is the raw, realistic descriptions of Elena s success in gaining some recognition in good society and her complex feelings of shame and pride that envelope her As for Lila, her attempts to escape her disastrous mariage lead her to mistreat Elena time and time again, and despite her heart stopping beauty and sensuality, she seems inescapably tied to the neighborhood the Camorra as represented by the Solari brothers and her dialect which binds her to her fate as well What also strikes me is the lucid interpretation of the characters actions When Nino kisses Elena on the cheek, and then, fatefully, Lila, I n his view it meant Let s get rid of all the filters that prevent us from fully savoring our being here and now, real p 223 This is actually another theme of the book, how do we live authentically despite the constraints of our culture and our upbringing The dialogs are rapid fire and full of irony and meaning I regret that I cannot read in Italian because I imagine that the passages between Italian and dialect and the intertextual inferences must be even better in the original The perception of our own self deception on a daily basis also pervades the text There are moments when we resort to senseless formulations and advance absurd claims to hide straightforward feelings p 271 is a lucid truth that is observed by the narrator again and again Time and time again, Elena is led down corridors of moral ambivalence, I was there on the island, the air stirred by the cab s movement assailed me with the intense odors of the vegetation from which the night was evaporating But it was a mortified presence, submissive to the demands of others p 284 In this way, both Naples and Ischia are also characters in the story in how they form the personality of the protagonists The real problem for Elena is her own lack of self identity, self love Their passion invaded me, disturbed me I loved them both and so I couldn t love myself, feel myself, affirm myself with a need for life of my own, one that had the same blind, mute force as theirs, So it seemed to me p 284 There is a gorgeous passage on page 289 of soul searching on the beach where we feel her pain, her alienation from herself that was literally painful to read Lila is right, the beauty of things is a trick, the sky is the throne of fear Powerful words Water and the sea are a consistent metaphor for the narrator s self loathing And if on the surface my condition might seemsolid,compact, here instead, beside Lila, I felt sodden, earth too soaked with water p 294 Yet, it is at this point, after the fateful night away from Nunzio that Elena starts to change once again and find herself This passage was brilliant And her life continuously appears in mine, in the words that I ve uttered, in which there s often an echo of hers, in a particular gesture that is an adaptation of a gesture of hers, in my less which is such because of her , in mywhich is the yielding to the force of her less Not to mention what she never said but let me guess, what I didn t know and read later in her notebooks Thus the story of the facts has to reckon with filters, deferments, partial truths, half lies from it comes an arduous measurement of time passed that is based completely on the unreliable measuring device of words p 337 And yet those words are where Elena will find vindication and meaning as she is finally able to put them on paper and write her first book This comes, of course, aftertribulation in Pisa where Elena feels the social distance between her and the academic society Gone was the pleasure of re educating my voice, my gestures, my way of dressing and walking, as if I were competing for the prize of the best disguise, the mask worn so well that is was almost a face p 400 This passage reminded me a lot of the Bal des Masques in Le Temps Retrouv And it is precisely at this moment of reflection that she writes her book I can t wait to read the third volume of this series and can t emphasize enough how engaging a read these books are I hope my review will incite you to read or reread this magnificent book C mon library, hurry up Elena Ferrante is an absolute marvel This was utterly ravishing How does she do it Structurally her novels could hardly beconservative, her subject matter the fraught friendship of two women has been done to death And yet you re constantly left with the feeling that no one has ever done what she does before Or at least no one has done it with such searing insight and freshness Only a handful of writers can undress and get to the heart of women as lucidly and thrillingly as Ferran Elena Ferrante is an absolute marvel This was utterly ravishing How does she do it Structurally her novels could hardly beconservative, her subject matter the fraught friendship of two women has been done to death And yet you re constantly left with the feeling that no one has ever done what she does before Or at least no one has done it with such searing insight and freshness Only a handful of writers can undress and get to the heart of women as lucidly and thrillingly as Ferrante The first hundred pages especially were quite simply a dazzling display of a writer removing all the paint and powder from a woman s face mask and showing us the naked truths beneath Ferrante is like a kind of dream psychoanalysis She dispels all the fog, unravels all the knots of a woman s deepest feeling and elucidates in simple language the fount, the hidden motive She always knows the secret as to why her women are doing what they do She once said in an interview that her ambition was to make the facts of ordinary life gripping She achieves this by elucidating the emotional motivational source of many of these facts She also has this extraordinary talent for easing into her narrative and explaining difficult subjects without sacrificing a single beat of the fabulous driving momentum of her story There are no divergences in this novel every line is intrinsic to understanding Elena and Lila s struggles to achieve identity and autonomy For example, the domestic violence in this novel is all thepowerfully disturbing for the lack of emphasis she gives it, as if it s noextraordinary than a trip to the shops It makes the domestic violence in, for example, A Girl Is a Half formed Thing seem written up and theatrical In fact the ease with which she feeds hugely complex and pivotal experience into her narrative makes most other contemporary novelists seem a bit written up and theatrical There s a fleet footed breeziness to Ferrante s storytelling which is quite simply bewitching in its ease of assurance I put off reading this for ages because for some reason I thought it might be a disappointment after My Brilliant Friend On the contrary it s even better What s your ugly place We all have one We all have a place we quite deliberately do not go to That we are aware is there, but have developed systems and defensive walls and jokes and denials in order to keep it out of the light of day It s the place you can t help but end up sometimes when something particularly embarrassing happens to you, something tragic, an epiphany about yourself that you didn t particularly want occurs to you It s the place where you were the person you never, ever wan What s your ugly place We all have one We all have a place we quite deliberately do not go to That we are aware is there, but have developed systems and defensive walls and jokes and denials in order to keep it out of the light of day It s the place you can t help but end up sometimes when something particularly embarrassing happens to you, something tragic, an epiphany about yourself that you didn t particularly want occurs to you It s the place where you were the person you never, ever wanted to be lives, and the memories of when that person came out that one time that you never want to think about again.That deep down dark pit of your stomach feeling that s welling up and over as that image comes to your brain That s it That s the visceral level of vulnerability, insecurity, ugliness and pain that I saw there And there is where you need to be to understand everything I m about to tell you.Because that place is where this novel goes This thing hit me where I live Which means, as you can probably tell already, that reading Story of a New Name is not something I would recommend for anyone in a fragile emotional state It isn t for anyone who is still too close to being an insecure, bookish not quite teenager any with major self esteem issues Even a few years ago, I think reading this might have sent me into a depressive, melodramatic spiral like when I saw Melancholia, which had to have been the literal worst thing I could have chosen to see while writing my thesis in a foreign country at a school full of people smarter than me I saw it three times and lost a weekend before I could see straight again.Which is what may happen with Elena Ferrante Which is totally insane, when you read these books objectively Or at least, I think it would be, I have no way of really telling right now Her style is, for the most part, this totally bare, bald faced thing that just tells you exactly what is happening to her characters in their mundane, perfectly ordinary 1960s poor Italian lives The engine driving the drama that the things that keep happening keep right on damn happening to them and the second volume is no better Ferrante is as merciless as time, marching on without a thought for her characters and their development, who really could use sometime in this stage of their personal development or other Ferrante, like the harsh Naples neighborhood she raises her characters in, doesn t allow herself to give a damn I can absolutely guarantee you, whatever you sign up for, you should sign up for some shit happens and very little mercy granted, because that s how it goes with Ferrante Sometimes I think that the main narrator s school and career arc is the mercy bone she threw us just to keep us from looking away The second volume of this series focuses on the girls late adolescence and post adolescence, the years that for most of us would be covered by late high school, college and your first post college job As with the first novel, the pages of the novel are covered over with a powerful atmosphere that burns right through the pages until you re sitting right with Lila and Elena with sand in your outdated bathing suit on the beach at Ischia, standing on a street corner watching a too flashy sports car go by, catching a glimpse of a movie star that looks like your friend, with Elena in a cramped corner of a bedroom like a modern Italian Fanny Price, angrily swatting at mosquitoes and trying to keep still in the suffocating heat The courtyards of broken glass, wailing from the windows, and women, uncommented upon, wearing bruises to work the next day is as sickeningly evoked as ever One of thefascinating atmospheric elements that Ferrante added demonstrated the stage of development where you become aware that you are not the center of the universe in a variety of ways in this case for characters living in poverty and powerlessness, most of them borne in forcibly upon you whether you like it or not Ferrante starts to introduce the gradual intrusion of politics and political identity tellingly, it mostly shows in onetribal identity, oneway for the kids to divide themselves mostly in increased accusations of Fascist pig and Red communist thrown around in place of remarks on one s face and person, and one kid going to one meeting and one going to another Elena also encounters this world, but again, not in itself, but as a piece of currency in the game of the class system, another piece of another kind of tribal mask that she s trying hard to donProfessor Airota and his daughter, had, for example, affectionate skirmishes on political subjects that I had heard about from Pasquale, from Nino, but whose substance I knew almost nothing about Arguments like you ve been trapped by inter class collaboration, you call it a trap, I call it mediation mediation in which the Christian Democrats always and only win you re not reforming a thing in our place what would you do revolution, revolution and revolution revolution is taking Italy out of the middle ages Like that, a swift back and forth a polemical exercise that they both obviously enjoyed What I had never had and, I now knew, would always lack What was it I wasn t able to say precisely the training, perhaps, to feel that the questions of the world were deeply connected to me the capacity to feel them as crucial and not purely as information to display at an exam, in view of a good grade a mental conformation that didn t reduce everything to my own individual battle, to the effort to be successful That one hit me hard This is is a really tough book on the class system and the unseen, building damage that it does to the psyche The sort of psychology on display here is the sort of thing I learned in my urban teacher training program, or learned first hand when faced with some of my students Elena spends a great deal of the back half of this book anxiously trying to decode and adopt the unwritten rules of being middle class the words, the clothes, what I was trained to call the cultural knapsack that middle class kids often get seemingly by osmosis Ferrante shows the utter human waste that happens as a result invisible waste, as far as we re concerned the brilliant minds that never get a chance to take over the world, the fruit seller who is unexpectedly good at math, the entrepreneurial ideas crushed by self confidence issues and family squabbles It s much harder to look at than any of the wasted landscapes or shabby apartments that she describes.And watching Elena sew her middle class mask onto her face tighter and tighter, laboring at it for years, and watching the ugly ugly road that it takes to get there of which Ferrante only tells you the barest part, but it isn t hard to guess it well did anyone else watch Battlestar Galatica Do you remember that time that Baltar was in jail after fucking up yet again, and he talks to Lee, I think, finally opening up to him a little bit about where he s from Fuck, I wish I could find it But while he s talking to him, hanging his head in the darkness with his hair covering his face, he slowly lets his cultured British accent morph into a thick, gravelly, hick voice that is clearly his natural tone He makes it as scary as possible, throwing it at aristocratic Lee like a weapon, moving to the bars with red eyes, like he s morphing himself into the monster he believes himself to be It s like that, but mannered, expressed in ladylike, spare lines like thisI was so glad that no one in that nice little family had asked me, as happened frequently, where I came from, what my father did and my mother, I was I, I, I It makes sense why, later in the novel, there s a passage about how so many characters are confused when Lila wants to go take a job in the center of the city She s a veritable queen in the old neighborhood, and can lord it over anyone there, lend them money, show them up in clothes, people are now afraid to cross her Why would she want to go to the nicer part of town, where her illusions will be shattered Why would she want to take that away that illusion from herself This class angle had a lot to do with the ugly place I was telling you about before, which is the deep seeded insecurity that runs throughout this entire book But while class and place and atmosphere are the bedrock reasons, the insecurity I m talking about here has to do with friendship This series is, after all, about a friendship No matter what other powerful stuff buttresses it under the surface, that provided it with its foundation, we re far enough along into the lives of these girls that the friendship has now taken on a life of its own We ve reached the point, as happens in a lot of long running friendships, where the thing has become overripe it s become something rotten and possibly poisonous, something that probably should have been dumped overboard a long time ago But you re still at the place where you can t quite let it go.Especially when it s a powerful relationship with someone as charismatic as Lila someone you looked up to, someone you put on a pedestal and set up as a sort of personal muse deity devil It s a fascinating, minute examination of a part of the consequences of an expanding consciousness of the world namely that you realize that you, your friend, and your courtyard are no longer the center of the universe Elena is starting to become aware, in fits and starts, of the fact that Lila has a personality and limits, just like she does She starts to say things like this is what she does She starts to express annoyance, and there s even a few times, where she pathetically tries to keep Lila outIn the past there had been Lila, a continuous happy detour into surprising lands Now everything I was I wanted to get from myself I was almost nineteen, I would never again depend on someone, and I would never again miss someone And even a whole chapter where she experiments writing about her own life without referencing Lila at all, something neat, clean, undisturbed And something that lasts two pages before Lila returnsHow easy it is to tell the story of myself without Lila time quiets down and the important facts slide along the thread of the years like suitcases on a conveyor belt at an airport you pick them up and put them on a page and it s done.It scomplicated to recount what happened to her in those years The belt slows down, accelerates, swerves abruptly, goes off the tracks The suitcases fall off, fly open, her things end up among mine to accommodate them, I am compelled to return to the narrative concerning me and that had come to be unobstructed and expand phrases that now sound too concise My life forces me to imagine what hers would have been if what happened to me had happened to her, what use she would have made of my luck And her life continuously appears in mine, in the words that I ve uttered, in which there s often an echo of hers, in a particular gesture that is an adaptation of a gesture of hers, in may less which is such because of her , in mywhich is yielding to the force of her less She can t leave her behind There s a lot of reasons why, but at the heart of it is another class battle of sorts to do with Elena s identification as an intellectual, and a discussion of different kinds of intelligence and which one is better Lila s is the kind that poets romanticize, people are magnetically drawn to, that succeeds when it shouldn t, but also continues to push and push until it inevitably breaks somethingIs it possible that you must always do harm, Lila When will you stop When will your energy diminish, will you be distracted, when will you finally collapse like a sleepy sentinel When will you grow wide and sit at the cash register in the new neighborhood, with your stomach swelling and make Pinuccia and aunt, and me, me, me, leave to go my own wayruns the imagined inner monologue of one of the characters While Elena s well, Elena s is kind that gets you through high school and college and into a steady job and the plaudits of those around you It s the sort of self punishing struggle that most intellectuals put themselves through at some point, and probably most of their lives, if they identify as or are put into the role of a smart kid early enough You were that kid, right A lot of us were But then you met that other kid, right The one who was smarter than you If you re me, you met a whole group of them in which you were the least intelligent person If you re lucky, you felt challenged, you felt yourself blossom If you weren t, you felt inadequate, like your identity had melted away and you never quite recovered If you re super unlucky, like Elena, you get the triple double horrible punch of feeling elated exhilarated proud betrayed insecure unhappy angry sad every time you see this person wasting themselves away If you ve never had that sort of deep friendship, the kind that s gone wrong and back around the corner again or even if it never quite come back again , the sort that s steered your life, I don t know how to explain it to you The closest I can come is that Cathy Heathcliff thing, it s that thing where Cathy tells people that Heathcliff is a part of her, and that really sucks and it s no pleasure to her most of the time, but there he is and there s really no way to tear him out again and you re going to have to live with the goddamn thing because if you don t, you ll pull out such a big piece of you that what you consider your Self will effectively die.She burns it up again at the end though, even after everything we see them go through That end, man I can t leave without talking about it Elena goes to see Lila, to share some important, happy news with her, news that she is convinced will change things, will ignite something good in her again And she does, but then Lila s reaction, what she sees her do in response And what happens to her what she thinks she realizes It was a gut punch that I can only describe by going back to Baltar again Remember in the last episoe he s with Six and they re trying to figure out how they re going to get by on the new planet and he says, in the most broken little voice you ve ever heard, like he absolutely can t believe he s bringing it upYou know, I know about farming If you were the person who, like me, was utterly destroyed by that moment, then you need to read this book If you were any of the people described above, or if you have that ugly place, you need to read this book If you re looking to be transported, if you re looking for something that can consume you for days, you need to read this book So I guess, really, I would say that if you re alive in any way, I m sure that there s a reason that you should probably read this book.Instant personal classic, instant all time favorites list, will be re reading this once a decade for the rest of my life WhyShe was explaining to me that I had won nothing, that in the world there is nothing to win, that her life was full of varied and foolish adventures as much as mine, and that time simply slipped away without any meaning, and it was good just to see each other every so often to hear the mad sound of one brain echo in the mad sound of the brain of the other That s why This review originally appeared on my blog at 4.5 stars Yes, it s Lila who makes writing difficult My life forced me to imagine what hers would have been if what happened to me had happened to her, what use she would have made of my luck And her life continuously appears in mine, in the words that I ve uttered, in which there s often an echo of hers, in my less which is such because of her , in mywhich is the yielding to the force of her less This second book in Elena Ferrante s Neapolitan series continues the story of two chil 4.5 stars Yes, it s Lila who makes writing difficult My life forced me to imagine what hers would have been if what happened to me had happened to her, what use she would have made of my luck And her life continuously appears in mine, in the words that I ve uttered, in which there s often an echo of hers, in my less which is such because of her , in mywhich is the yielding to the force of her less This second book in Elena Ferrante s Neapolitan series continues the story of two childhood friends, now young adults, Lila and Elena Just as riveting as My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name captured my attention from page one It s quite dramatic really, and I found that at times my head was spinning from the depth of the penetrating look at the lives, behaviors, motivations and innermost thoughts of this pair Now, a book that sets my head spinning can be a good thing and it was here An accomplished writer like Ferrante can draw you in like you are watching the drama play out right in front of you It did require, however, a step back from time to time to relax and catch my breath A bit of re energizing is necessary to take it all in Imagine yourself a teenager still, with all the complexities of emotions, the uncertainties, the jealousies, and the sometimes rash behaviors attributed to you and your friends and acquaintances But now add in a degree of poverty that most of us are fortunately not accustomed to, violence that I pray most are not subjected to, and the expectations and obstacles faced by women in the late 1950s and early 1960s This is precisely what Lila and Elena deal with and what we as readers are privy to through the lens provided to us Now, if you haven t read the first book in the series, you may want to stop reading this review at this point I m not revealing any spoilers, but I personally didn t want any details before reading and you may feel the same I just want to talk about Lila and Elena a little bitThroughout the novel, I found myself reflecting on the two and who was better off, who the stronger of the two characters, etc I think the opening quote to my review really sums up the relationship between the two and I came to my own conclusion, whether right or wrong, that each completes the other Elena may have hadeducational opportunities, but without the encouragement of Lila as well as a sense of competition, she may not have had the drive to take advantage of those opportunities Lila finds herself in a marriage that does not suit her from the beginning, but she will fight for somethingShe hasmaterial possessions, and after all, wasn t that the dream these two had as little girls Wasn t that the goal of going to school and receiving an education They wanted to become rich But happiness is elusive Perhaps riches are not enough Is it too late to re make oneself and achieve somethingI think Lila can sustain herself knowing that Elena has been successful with her studies Maybe there areways to rise above the poverty and the violence of the neighborhood other than money The narrative is written from Elena s point of view, but we also get occasional glimpses from Lila s point of view through a series of notebooks she entrusted to Elena Notebooks that Elena was not given permission to read, but that is neither here nor there If your best friend gave you her diary for safekeeping, what would you do Maybe your friend gave you the diary because she couldn t express the deepest feelings in her heart, and she knew that you would not be able to resist In this way, you can share your thoughts in a less confrontational manner perhaps I don t really know, but it was certainly a clever means for us to gleanthan just Elena s point of view here I don t know that I can say muchabout this book or this series it s one that I could contemplate for an indefinite amount of time So much happens in these pages, but none of it is confusing There are a lot of names and variations of names for the same person A guide at the front of the book helps with this Otherwise, it flows seamlessly and is written skillfully There is drama, but I don t mean to say it s melodramatic Not in the least I will admit that it is addicting Oh, and that ending I will read the next in the series, albeit with a bit of a break in between For your whole life you love people and you never really know who they are Nunzia to Len , p.215 This one s a heartbreaker So exquisitely rendered that you ll recognize your own hideous pain rising up to assail you again, dear Reader your losses, your miseries in the cause of love Ferrante makes universal the disparate pain all loving creatures suffer Toward the end, when reality becomes too much for some of the characters, they descend into scarily dissociative states that surprise and For your whole life you love people and you never really know who they are Nunzia to Len , p.215 This one s a heartbreaker So exquisitely rendered that you ll recognize your own hideous pain rising up to assail you again, dear Reader your losses, your miseries in the cause of love Ferrante makes universal the disparate pain all loving creatures suffer Toward the end, when reality becomes too much for some of the characters, they descend into scarily dissociative states that surprise and rattle.The novel s narrative pleasure is dizzying Every action naturally folds into the next the continuity is superb The clarity is extraordinary, it never relents I found myself slowing down to take in the richness as I would when reading a poem That s the paradox Ferrante incites in readers between wanting to gallop through the stunning tale, to just gobble it up like cake, and slowing down to take in the beauty of its structure and language.It s the early 1960s in Naples and Lina Carracci n e Cerullo is newly and miserably married and living in virtual purdah with her husband, Stefano, whom she has quickly learned to hate because he is a tool of the Solaras, who are Cammora Mr and Mrs Carracci live quite well in a new apartment with modern decor and lots of money because of their connection to these local criminals Lina, we will recall from volume one, My Brilliant Friend, was unable to go on with her education at age ten or so and was made to work in her father s shoe shop Her chance of a higher education gone even though she was the smartest girl in the school she then had to resort to other means of self advancement, namely marriage In the early going here it s not going so well She feels, not without justification, that Stefano tricked her into marriage So she refuses him the great gift and he beats her to a pulp regularly, in effect raping his wife.In her friend Len , our narrator, Lina sees her own lost dream of education still alive Yet Len s having her man problems too Her lover, Antonio, a car mechanic, suspects her of interest in another fellow, Nino, who is intellectually Len s match in a way Antonio can never be Len stays with the blue collar Antonio, though, because she doesn t feel worthy of Nino, having come from a background much like Antonio s Len disparages her intellect and achievements, lusting over the distant Nino She is trying to make that leap but can t see how she might do it This is all a little silly when you consider that Nino is actually from her own neighborhood She s known him since she was a child But his father moved out of the neighborhood many years ago and became a college professor And now Len feels Nino s somehow out of her league.There was no escape No, neither Lina nor I would ever become like the sophisticated girl who had waited for Nino after school We both lacked something intangible but fundamental, which was obvious in her even if you simply saw her from a distance, and which one possessed or did not, because to have that thing it was not enough to learn Latin or Greek or philosophy, nor was the money from groceries or shoes of any use p 84 Suffice it to say, Nino isavailable then Len suspects That s the problem I say noRead.The long interlude on the beach at Ischia reminds me very much of Cesare Pavese s novellas, particularly The Beach, as found in The Selected Works One of Nino s sisters is even named Clelia Another work, which harrowingly evokes the terrors of youthful sexual awakening, is brought to mind by The Story Of A New Name, and that s Knut Hamsun s Pan From Lieutenant Thomas Glahn s Papers See my reviews of both books.On to Volume 3 Loved it just as much the 2nd time reading it I adore these characters and would read 100 books about them 4.5 stars Update Bumping this one up to a 5 stars because after a few months of thinking about it, it s definitely my favorite in the series I keep finding myself thinking of certain scenes and elements of this installment, and I love it I m not sure if I can write a coherent review of this book right now There are so many layers to this story, so much to unpack, and yet still Loved it just as much the 2nd time reading it I adore these characters and would read 100 books about them 4.5 stars Update Bumping this one up to a 5 stars because after a few months of thinking about it, it s definitely my favorite in the series I keep finding myself thinking of certain scenes and elements of this installment, and I love it I m not sure if I can write a coherent review of this book right now There are so many layers to this story, so much to unpack, and yet still, as this is book 2 of 4, so much left to discover I am incredibly impressed by Ferrante s ability to develop characters that are real,real than almost any other characters I have read before They have ambition, are flawed, fight and love and inspire.There is high probability I will come back and give this book a 5 star rating later, but for now I want to finish the series and accumulate my thoughts Oh, and this book has one of the best pages of literature I ve ever read, so there s that I can t wait to read books 3 4 In , Elena Ferrante s My Brilliant Friend introduced readers to the unforgettable Elena and Lila, whose lifelong friendship provides the backbone for the Neapolitan Novels The Story of a New Name is the second book in this series With these books, which the New Yorker s James Wood described as large, captivating, amiably peopled a beautiful and delicate tale of confluence and reversal, Ferrante proves herself to be one of Italy s most accomplished storytellers She writes vividly about a specific neighborhood of Naples from the late s through to the current day and about two remarkable young women who are very much the products of that place and time Yet in doing so she has created a world in which readers will recognize themselves and has drawn a marvelously nuanced portrait of friendshipIn The Story of a New Name, Lila has recently married and made her entr e into the family business Elena, meanwhile, continues her studies and her exploration of the world beyond the neighborhood that she so often finds stifling Love, jealousy, family, freedom, commitment, and above all friendship these are signs under which both women live out this phase in their stories Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila, and the pressure to excel is at times too much for Elena Yet the two young women share a complex and evolving bond that is central to their emotional lives and is a source of strength in the face of life s challenges In these Neapolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante, the acclaimed author of The Days of Abandonment, gives readers a poignant and universal story about friendship and belonging I m still a bit puzzled about the phenomen that Ferrante s cycle is I don t find writing particuralry brilliant, I think I didn t mark any single quote here and yet enjoyed the story I thought it was very predictible at times, I could see what was coming and mostly hadn t been suprised by the course of events and still kept reading I can t say it was innovative or imaginative yet Ferrante managed to draw me in her world entirely Maybe I m mistaken, but as I mentioned in the review of MBF, I I m still a bit puzzled about the phenomen that Ferrante s cycle is I don t find writing particuralry brilliant, I think I didn t mark any single quote here and yet enjoyed the story I thought it was very predictible at times, I could see what was coming and mostly hadn t been suprised by the course of events and still kept reading I can t say it was innovative or imaginative yet Ferrante managed to draw me in her world entirely Maybe I m mistaken, but as I mentioned in the review of MBF, I still haven t spotted in the second volume anything to not maintain that Ferrante is excorcising her past Her writing here feels too intimate, too personal to think about this one only as a fictional story Perhaps her case is similar to other writers, including Edward St Aubyn and hisPatrick Melrose orMy struggle by Karl Ove Knausg rd that I m reading now, and this is her way to deal with the demons of the past, a necessary step on the way to move on, to finally let go.I ve returned to Lila and Elena story after over two years and I find myself still engaged in their story and difficult friendship, the relationship that actually feelslike challenging than supporting each others I was suprised how easily I entered their lives again and how much I rememberd from the previous tome Of course some names eluded me but the main protagonists didn t fade in my memory Like in the first installment this one bases on choices girls had made already and its aftermaths It s useless to describing the plot for you either buy this story or not, either you re involved and concerned their fates or are bored and somewhat dismissive, like, you know, such things still happen so what s the point to write hundreds pages about it I for my part was really engaged from the first page and thought that strength of the novel lies just in this meticulous description, this detailed dissection, this ugly at times mundanity and sheer ordinariness of their lives The Story of a New Name is about losing old self and identity and by adopting a new name, the husband s name, forging the new one It s about struggling to remain oneself in mostly man s world, where masculine point of view is sanctity and it s highly unreasonable to defy established order It s about violence womens were still subjected to and time honoured agreement to it It s about humilitian that not only fathers or husbands deliver but also women to themselves It s about attempting to break the vicious circle of poverty and misery by abandoning not only family home, not even a quarter and neighbourhood but also a city if it needs.Lila s figure iscomplicated one and she is farreckless, rebellious and untamed than in the first volume, she hurts and degradates Elena because she herself is a victim Their relationship once again is full of mutual resentments and envy and admiration and their sense of closenessandprecarious Ferrante doesn t shy away from speaking of violence and abuse and rape and wife beaters she bluntly describes the ugly face of Lila s marriage and where and why it failed She lets us know the moment when the girls, young women actually, had to acknowledge the truth that no matter what they would do, no matter how much money Lila has now or how educated Elena is, they still would have no chance with thoroughbred, that true class and natural grace is not to buy or imitate.I think I m enjoying the story because it has an air of something tangible, it s like hearing about people you know in real life, people you re supporting in their struggling I don t expect anything spectacular or flamboyant or bigger than life And I think I ll stop here From L amie prodigieuse Choice of roleYou can be either a bad girl or a good girl When you have played a bit , you can even try combining these two roles See Advanced options below.Bad girlIf you are a bad girl, you will be able to speak your mind and express your sexuality freely, but you will be beaten, raped and called a whore and a witch You may also be subjected to other punishments, such as being disowned by your family or forced into a dangerous and poorly remunerated job G From L amie prodigieuse Choice of roleYou can be either a bad girl or a good girl When you have played a bit , you can even try combining these two roles See Advanced options below.Bad girlIf you are a bad girl, you will be able to speak your mind and express your sexuality freely, but you will be beaten, raped and called a whore and a witch You may also be subjected to other punishments, such as being disowned by your family or forced into a dangerous and poorly remunerated job Good girlIf you are a good girl, you will be grudgingly accepted by society, but you will have to work twenty four hours a day to learn the complex rules you need to follow, you will constantly feel that you are a fraud and an imposter, and you will need to sleep with people who do not attract you while pretending that they do Goal of the gameYour goal is to have children and live long enough to see them grow up only mildly damaged You will find that this is harder than it sounds, but that s all part of the fun Advanced optionsWhen you have played the game a few times, you may want to try combining the bad girl and good girl roles You may for example be a bad girl who gets married and tries to stay faithful to her husband, or a good girl who writes a daring and truthful novel about her life Note however that none of these strategies will actually let you win.Useful tipsIf you decide to get serious about WOMAN , there are several excellent books which will help you improve your skills Elena Ferrante s series is particularly good Go out and buy a copy tomorrow, you won t regret it WARNING Spending too much time playing WOMAN can be very depressing Make sure you take frequent breaks, and remember that it s only a game.Enjoy To Celle qui fuit et celle qui reste


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