The Story of a New Name

Elena Ferrante, Author
Elena Ferrante, trans. from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. Europa (Penguin, dist.), $18 (480p) ISBN 978-1-60945-134-9
Ebook - 638 pages - 978-1-922148-69-8
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The second in a trilogy, book two rejoins narrator Elena Greco and her "brilliant friend" Lina Cerullo as they leave behind their claustrophobic Italian girlhood and enter the tumultuous world of young womanhood with all its accompanying love, loss, and confusion. Against the backdrop of l960s/70s Naples, the previously inseparable girls embark on diverse paths. At 16, Lila has married the prosperous local grocer, Stefano Carraci, only to discover at their wedding reception that he has already betrayed her and damned their union. Conversely Elena has chosen education, a less traditional route to free her from the stultifying village life. Lina asks Elena to hide a box of notebooks from her husband. Instead, she dumps them in the river but not without first reading them. Ferrante masterfully combines Elena's recollections of events with Lila's point of view as documented in her notebooks to drive the narrative. The women's fraught relationship and shifting fortunes are the life forces of this poignant book. (Sept.)
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