I am still not sure how she does it, but Ferrante absolutely draws me into this neighborhood of Naples in which the web of people and history makes every action, no matter how small, one that has ripple effects throughout the whole community. I feel like I know her characters and their locations so well that I would be able to recognize them easily. I admire how Ferrante is able to balance such a wide range of characters, all of whom are nuanced and flawed.

If, at times, I felt the pace dragging, I would soon find myself caught up in a passage of such lyrical intensity and insight that it would sustain me for quite a while. A small example –

Thus the story of the facts has to reckon with filters, deferments, partial truths, half lies; from it comes an arduous measurement of time passed that is based completely on the unreliable measuring device of words.

I could swim in that sentence for a long time.

And, as with the first book, the ending caught me by surprise. I wanted more and will pick up Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay very soon.

If you have a suggestion of an accessible history of 20th century Italian history, I’d appreciate it. It would be nice to read alongside the final two Neapolitan novels.

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