It is “the global literary sensation” according to Guardian’s book review. It’s adapted into theatre shows and a TV series is in the making. Even an (eagle-eyed) air hostess on the flight from Singapore to Paris commended the book that was in my hands. I read the first book of the 4-part Neapolitan Novels out of curiosity of its fame – a bit like the situation when I read The Game of Thrones.
As always, if you want to read a book review with literary “authority”, search it elsewhere on the internet. I only write down my opinion here as an ordinary reader.
Briefly speaking, My Brilliant Friend is about the childhood and teenage years of two Italian girls, and their friendship living in a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples, Italy. The whole network of people around them is like sinking sand, their parents, siblings, teachers in the school, neighbours in the streets, boys they love, boys who love them. They hold onto each other in order not to sink. They are both clever, and they are on two paths to make themselves stand above the neighbourhood, to have better life. Are they successful? I need to read the following books to find out, but I don’t think I like it enough to read more (just like The Game of Thrones). The main reason is, they either love each other in a way that I don’t understand, or they don’t love each other at all. I don’t have close girlfriends like that and I would never want any. Too much jealousy and secret competition. They are hungry for love and security, but they look for those things in people around them who are themselves looking for exactly the same things.
I like its use of language. Again, I can’t analyse writing technics with rules and principles from textbooks. But I know that storylines, characters, feelings and emotions are constructed from bricks of words. Whether I like the building itself or not, I can tell that the bricks are of high quality, and each one is laid down seamlessly next to another. At the end of the book, I can’t say I like any of the characters, or the community, or the culture of the place particularly, but at least, I feel like I know them quite well.
I don’t regret reading it – maybe I’ll read it again when I’m older. But for now, I wouldn’t read the following books myself or recommend it as enthusiastically as the internet does.