Monday, October 24, 2016

Those Who Leave and those Who Stay: Book Three of the Neapolitan Novels / Elena Ferrante, trans. Ann Goldstein, 418 p.

The story of the two friends continues, with a shift in focus as Elena (Lenu), the one who leaves, gets a university education in Pisa, marries a professor and settles in Florence.  Along the way she publishes a novel highlighting some of the episodes of sexual violence referred to in the earlier novels.  The novel, in a changing Italy now willing to grapple with these issues, is a wild success, changing Elena's life forever.

Meanwhile Lila, the one who stays, (stays in Naples, stays in the working class, etc.) leaves her husband Stefano and sets up a more peaceful household with her small son and Enzo, a childhood friend of both of the women.

The focus in this novel is on Elena and her struggles as a young mother and emerging artist, and it drags a bit as a result.  Lila is the magnetic, strange, self-destructive heart of the story, and I found I couldn't wait to get back to her story.  Happily, the fourth and final novel delivers plenty of Lila, as the two women's lives become deeply enmeshed once again.

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