My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend - Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante

I purchased this book based on all the great reviews on the blogs I follow and decided to save it for vacation just knowing it was going to enjoy it thoroughly.


The story of childhood friends Elena and Lila growing up in the 1950's in Naples, Italy tells of their ongoing competition they held throughout their lives.  Both trying to out do each other in school to receive the highest marks and praise from their teacher.  It was their hope that if they did well enough that their family would allow them to continue their studies rather than work. Highly influenced by the males in their families as well as the mafia within the city it is difficult for them to have a life of their own which they both ultimately desire.


I found this book difficult to read and discovered afterwards it was translated from Italian which may be where the problem exists.  Sentences felt choppy and lacked flow, in addition there was a sense of repetition as if I were reading the same excerpts over and over.  The one thing that didn't ring true to me is while this story took place between the 1950's-60's Italy there was barely any mention of religion. Growing up as an Italian-Catholic this seems unbelievable. The only reference was for their First Holy Communion and a wedding. One would think both religion and mafia would have equal influence in their lives. I really wanted to like this book and I may decide to give this author another chance only because she's Italian.


How I acquired this book:  Barnes & Noble

Shelf Life:  4 months