My Brilliant Friend is the first in Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels series. It is narrated by Elena who describes her life growing up in a poor part of post war Naples, and particularly her friendship with another girl called Lila.
The novel successfully describes the close knit community in Naples at that time, and the machismo of the neighbourhood. The intensity of the friendship between Elena and Lila is very believable, particularly the competitiveness between them.
However, there are a lot of characters in this book and even though there was a list of families and characters at the beginning I sometimes found it difficult to keep track of everyone. Although the characterisation is strong in general, I couldn’t quite understand why Lila was so popular with every single teenage boy that met her.
I enjoyed the novel in general and I may continue with the series, but I’m not in a huge rush to do so.