Book Club #1 : My Brilliant Friend
I have an interesting relationship with books. Like with most things in life, I am an all-or-nothing type of person - maybe a bit too extreme sometimes. When it comes to books, I can read nothing for months, and then literally destroy a tome in a couple of days; last time it happened was this winter with The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, an incredible French thriller novel, a page-turner of the best kind.
My mother sent me My Brilliant Friend, a novel by Neapolitan writer Elena Ferrante, in one of her "homesick packages", mostly comprising food which brings a delicious taste of home to my Dublin life. It took me a couple of months before I finally opened this book, but after only a dozen pages, I was hooked.
The author, Elena Ferrante, has been hiding for the past twenty years. As a contemporary Romain Gary, she has released several successful books, yet no one has ever seen her face or even talked to her on the phone. Is it her real name? How old is she? Is she famous under an other name? Does she even exist? We don't know, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter.
Whether it was written by a man or a woman, Italian, American or Japanese, My Brilliant Friend has something universal to it, the fact that we were all once children and we all had friends that we looked up to for different reasons. The plot taking place in Naples in the fifties definitely increased my interest, and the story of these two little girls and how their eccentric yet moving and true friendship evolved over the years was made utterly enthralling by the author's writing talent.