Monday, May 02, 2016

The Story of a New Name (by Elena Ferrante)

You may remember my opinion of the first book in this series was mixed.  I wasn't going to read the second one, and then my friend aych insisted that the series gets way better, book three is the best one, and here's a copy of book two for you to read. Okay, okay, I said. I'll give it a try.

About halfway through this book I was completely sucked in. I had been setting aside a little time to read at the end of each day, reading 20 pages here and 20 pages there, until I hit that middle section and suddenly couldn't put it down. It's a soap opera, yes, but a completely compelling one, and I loved all the soapy developments and again the complicated relationship between Elena and Lila.*

The ending here is less of a cliffhanger and more of a complete non-ending -- this is clearly part of a larger whole. I told aych I need the third installment as soon as possible.

I also loved this quote about reading: In [Lila's] notebooks I found notes on how she was reading the difficult texts: she struggled to advance, page by page, but after a while she lost the thread, she thought of something else; yet she forced her eye to keep gliding along the lines, her fingers turned the pages automatically, and by the end she had the impression that, even though she hadn't understood, the words had nevertheless entered her brain and inspired thoughts. Starting there, she reread the book and, reading, corrected her thoughts or amplified them, until the text was no longer useful, she looked for others.

*The names though. There's Lena and Lenu and Lina and Lila, Rino, Pino and Nino, and Antonio/Alfonso/Armando, and I keep thinking there's an Adolfo and an Alonzo but there's not. Have mercy, Elena Ferrante!

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Blogger ljhliesl said...

I'm glad to know you didn't find the first volume compelling either yet persevered. I enjoyed the first fine but not enough to continue. Your recommendation is a good push for me.

9:31 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

I think the second one was my favorite. I wouldn't call the series an absolute must-read, but I did enjoy it throughout, and it was an immersive experience in the end.

9:46 AM  

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