With very few books coming out that interested me, I felt it was about time to read Ferrante’s much-loved quartet. The main characters are Lila and Lenu, born and raised in an area of Naples seething with hate, abuse and violence. The four novels follow these best friends through their schooling, marriages, affairs and children. Lila is beautiful and intelligent but leaves school in 5th grade and remains in the neighborhood. Lenu, the narrator of the four novels, goes to college (the only one in the neighborhood who does), becomes a successful author and although she travels extensively and lives in other Italian cities, she is often drawn back to Naples.
After I read the first book, I didn’t understand what all the hoopla was about. However, about a third of the way into book #2, I was hooked. I found the characters and their culture engrossing and fascinating. If you are willing to devote a lot of time, The Neapolitan Novels are well worth it.