Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Currently Reading: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
Yay! I've been waiting for a while to finally read this book and now that I have it and it's available in the US, I'm not wasting any time! I finished reading Russian Winter last night (spoiler: it was great. I'll post on it soon) and I began Elena Ferrante's final installation of her well-known Neapolitan Trilogy.
I'm already so engrossed and invested in this story of two friends, Elena and Lila, from having read the first two installations—two books that I suggest everyone read. Ferrante's writing is exceptional. She explores the true elements of a sometimes hurtful, sometimes inspiring friendship. She writes of Naples and Italy in the 1950s and 60s in such a way that it becomes real and relevant to today's world.
I find myself getting genuinely excited for Elena, the narrator of this story, when she finds out that her fiancé has been offered a tenure professor job at a university in Florence in the first few pages of this book. It's not always easy for me to feel the emotions of a character I read about, but Ferrante writes in a manner that makes it feel as if this excitement is part of my own life, as if this is happening to a close friend of mine or even to me!
Another reason that I love this story so much is because of Elena, the narrator's, life. She was born into a family that is preoccupied with hard work, not education or self improvement. Elena has always felt that she is in the shadow of her best friend, Lila, even though Lila only has an elementary level education and has been stuck in an unhappy marriage and now finds herself a single mother, working in a sausage factory. Elena, however, graduates high school and goes to a university in Pisa. She writes a novel, based on her childhood and her Neapolitan neighborhood, that is quickly published. Further, she finds herself engaged to an intelligent professor with a good, strong family. But somehow, her friendship will Lila constantly causes anguish and will always cause her to doubt herself and the life—far away from their Naples—she has chosen.
I love the fact that Elena succeeds, that she becomes highly educated though she comes from a community of people who do not necessarily support or encourage it. I love that she finds herself as an accomplished and well-recieved author. I love all of these details and I can't wait to see how they unfold through this last book of the trilogy.
I'm sure I will read it quickly out of sheer enjoyment, but I will miss it when it's done and when Ferrante has written all she can about the lives of Elena and Lila.