Along with Lila by Marilynne Robinson, last year I was also captivated by Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Three have been published, and I devoured them in a few weeks: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and Those who Leave and Those who Stay. Here’s a taste from the second book, as the narrator, Elena, visits the big city with her father for the first time:
I felt dazed by the powerful gusts, by the noise. I had the impression that, although I was absorbing much of that sight, many things, too many, were scattering around me without letting me grasp them. My father held tight to my hand as if he were afraid that I would slip away. In fact I had the wish to leave him, run, move, cross the street, be struck by the brilliant scales of the sea. At that tremendous moment, full of light and sound, I pretended I was alone in the newness of the city, new myself with all life ahead, exposed to the mutable fury of things but surely triumphant: I, I and Lila, we two with that capacity that together— only together— we had to seize the mass of colors, sounds, things, and people, and express it and give it power.
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante