Sunday, 23 March 2014
The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferranted
Podcast: NPR Fresh Air
Brow: For now, high. But when Ferrante's works start really getting the attention they deserve, they will become middle brow.
Summary: The Story of a New Name begins at the moment My Brilliant friend ends: 16 year old Lila Cerruto has just wed her fiance Stefano and realised that he doesn't share any of the ideals she holds dear. She spends the rest of the book fighting to escape her husband and avoid pregnancy despite having the right to divorce or access to birth control, and without slipping back into the violent poverty of her working-class Neapolitan neighbourhood. Observing all of this is her best friend Elena, who is envious of her friend's seemingly luxurious and romantic life while she toils away at high school and university. The two are further driven apart by Nino, a boy Elena has secretly loved since they were children, but who appears to prefer Lila, wedding ring notwithstanding.
But should you read it? Yes, absolutely, if only for the descriptions of the minute changes a female friendship undergoes in response to every experience the actors have. It doesn't hurt that the fierce, stubborn, passionate Lila is one of the most searing characters in recent fiction. I kept putting off bed time just so I could read one more chapter of her adventures.