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Thursday, June 1, 2017

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

This is a highly respected novel in what has come to be known as the Neapolitan Quartet.  Everyone I know who has read it loved it, and I was given the whole set of them while I was in the throws of pretty intense chemotherapy, and just was not able to get into it.  I thought at first that it was me, that my frame of mind was just not right,  It took me several starts to read this first book and as I reflect on it, I think that it is because it is just a very messy book.  The lives of the young women involved are very complicated and it is a variety of things that make that true.  The first is the oppressive patriarchal community that they grow up in.  It is almost suffocating to read about, and yet that is a reality for many girls around the globe, even in the first world, and truly in the third world.  The second is that it is very easy to be overwhelmed with the privilege that one has in growing up in the late 20th century.  The opportunities are not what they could be, but they are far superior to what they have historically been.  Then there is the struggle to find one's voice and purpose.  I finished this book while on an idyllic walk through the Cotswolds and have been thinking about it ever since.  It is that kind of book.

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